On November 21, 2019, Interactive Research & Development (IRD) Pakistan hosted 10,000 adolescent girls from 58 schools at the second Kiran Sitara Event – Ab Meri Bari Hai! (Now, It’s My Turn!) in collaboration with the Government of Sindh and Indus Health Network. The event celebrated and supported the empowerment of Adolescent Girls to drive change in their communities.
The event was held at the PAF Museum and brought together over 10,000 Kiran Sitaras – school girls from all over Karachi – along with international donors, youth advocates, government partners, local celebrities and high level political representatives.
Distinguished political figures including the Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, the Secretaries of Health and Education, the Commissioner Karachi and other Government officials participated. Among other notable guests were Mr. Thabani Maphosa (Managing Director for Country Programs, GAVI), Dr. Hamidreza Setayesh (Senior Country Manager, GAVI), Dr. Arshad Chandio (National Program Manager, Federal EPI), Dr. Akram Sultan (Project Director-EPI, Sindh), Aamina Sheikh (Actress and ambassador of Pakistan Alliance for Girls Education), Samina Baig (Mountaineer and first Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest) and Hajra Khan (Captain of Pakistan’s National Women’s Football team and Ambassador to British Asian Trust).
This event showcased the potential of the Kiran Sitara program, a young adult/adolescent program in collaboration with the Sindh School Education and Literacy Department, targeting young girls in schools across Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukker, Badin, Bhong, Lahore and Peshawar. It also included a performance by all 10,000 school girls accompanied by percussion band Quadrum as a celebration of their potential as change makers.
“The Kiran Sitara program teaches adolescent health and leadership skills such as confidence, empathy and perseverance, combined with basic healthcare directives. The aim of the program is to empower these young girls into taking ownership and control of health-related concerns, equip them with the skills to become community leaders and enable them to link their communities to appropriate care.” stated Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.
“When I learned about the Kiran Sitara program, I immediately wanted to get involved and sought out permission from my family. Though it was challenging, I am proud that I am now capable enough to help people in my community,” said Sana Imran, Kiran Sitara. “It makes me extremely happy to know that because of me, people have been able to get treatment for their illnesses.”
Since 2016, Kiran Sitara girls have screened and referred over one million people for TB. In the next step of this holistic program, girls will be trained to identify never- or under-immunized children and organize vaccination camps in their communities.
“Kiran Sitaras have the unique ability to reach people in need that would otherwise be lost to us,” said Aamir Khan, Executive Director of IRD. “These girls are not only supporting a mission to build healthier communities across Pakistan, but they are gaining the skills and tools they need to pursue any and all opportunities they so choose as future leaders.”
By building a network of trained and empowered adolescent school going girls, families living in difficult-to-reach communities can be educated to promote behavior change for healthier lifestyles, and we can ensure that all communities have equal access to crucial health care services.
On the 29th of January, the Government of Sindh, with the support of IRD, Indus Health Network and Evidence Action, will carry out the fourth Mass Deworming Activity in schools across Karachi. This initiative aims to deworm over 2.9 million children by providing safe and free of cost deworming medication in public and private schools, by training teachers to administer the medication. Kiran Sitaras are perfectly positioned as school-aged girls to support this MDA and mobilize their community members to send their children to be dewormed.
Lastly, the Diya App was launched giving the adolescent girls an opportunity to participate in community engagement and interact with each other.