Rising Girl, the story so far…

Guest Post by Emb Hashmi, Award winning Journalist at BBC , Podcast Host and Social Entrepreneur.

Rising Girl started its journey as a short four-minute film focusing on one young girls struggle risking life and limb to get to school in a remote part of Pakistan. Her dream was to become a doctor and lift her family out of poverty.

The film was aired in three film premiers in London, Manchester, and Birmingham, attended by Malala’s parents, parliament members, and peers, sharing their rising stories and hash-tagging the words rising girl.

To my utter surprise, the film went viral and was covered by most Pakistani news channel’s.

This was when I thought my job was done, I had raised my voice for this young girl, and someone somewhere will help her.

However, not releasing that this film would lead me to register my own charity and help girls right on my doorstep.

If someone had told me that the road ahead trying to set up the charity would be filled with blood (I’m sure there were some paper cuts on the way), bucket loads of sweats, and endless tears, I may not today be the founder and chair of Rising Girl.

I started to register the charity independently with no previous experience and tried to convince people to come on the journey and become trustees. This was difficult. I have learned you really need to find people with your passion and believe as there are no glory days at the beginning of any journey. Why should anyone want to give up their time for free! After a few quick turnovers of trustees, I finally found two to come to write this chapter of the charity with me. Refat and Shumailla came on board officially a few months after I received the charity registration, which took almost a year.

In the early days, I went and knocked on the door of Javed Khan, the chief executive of the UK’s largest and oldest children’s charity Barnardo’s and convinced him to partner with us. They seldom do this, especially not with a new and tiny charity with no history or experience. However, to my delight, he saw the potential and understood that the work we were doing with young girls they were not.

We then gave our idea and research to Barnardo’s who wrote our first programme and delivered it in our pilot school.

The six week pilot at a large girls school in Birmingham was a huge success, we survey the girls at the start of the programme, and 57% said they would drop out of school post 16 due to all the issues they face in life at the end the same girls said they would stay on and overcome their barriers which were 97%.

The programme today is called Rise Together and is currently being delivered at 10 schools across Birmingham. We have secured funding to deliver a further thirty schools in the city and pilot the programme in five new cities.

We revamped and relaunched our website with seven thirty-minute interactive fun courses for girls to learn and develop that cover everything from a forced marriage to financial empowerment during the pandemic.

We also launched and piloted our gender equality programme with female university students in Pakistan, all virtually.

As well as this, we partnered with another charity and ran a #BREAKTHEGLASS series of webinars with trailblazers who have faced racism, prejudice, sexism and discrimination on their rise, such as Baroness Scotland QC, who became the first female attorney general in 700 hundred years, and Netflix Chef’s Table star Asma Khan who runs London’s only female kitchen as well as Malala’s father and Dawn Butler MP who has faced a barrage of racism to name a few.. we then turned this series into podcasts as resources for schools.

However, the journey does not stop there. There is so much more work to do we are developing a phase two Rise Together in-class programme for female university students in the UK with a local university and working to develop a relationship with ChildLine as well as all this, we are running our annual Rise Together walk which takes place on international women days. 

This year is a bit different due to Covid. All the participants are encouraged to walk the 2.7 miles in their own bubbles and tag us on social media with their goody bag.

Every time the charity hits one goal post, we move it back. We hope to build a strong team of employees to run the charity day today, and we currently have five trustees on the board, with two new members Paris and Lucy.

I am passionate that every girl should have the opportunity to rise, which is my ultimate goal with Rising Girl.

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