Impact of education on women: An empowered woman’s journey

26 December 2016

Gulnara Kamal, head teacher at Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Middle School, Gitch (Gilgit-Baltistan), put in years of hard work and resolve to get where she is today.

Gulnara Kamal, head teacher at Diamond Jubilee (DJ) Middle School, Gitch (Gilgit-Baltistan), put in years of hard work and resolve to get where she is today. Originally from the nearby village of Sherqilla, now home to a beautiful Aga Khan Higher Secondary School, she was often discouraged from going to school as a child.  To prove herself worthy she made sure she excelled in everything.

Now sitting in the head teacher’s office in DJ Middle School, Gitch, Kamal recalls one of the defining accomplishments of her life. In 1984, when Kamal was in the 9th grade, she won a gold medal for a countrywide essay competition. “My sister asked why I was taking part in the competition? What’s the point?” Kamal wasn’t sure at the time, but “I just knew I wanted to,” she says. After the results were announced, she began what she calls one of the most memorable journeys of her life. The award ceremony was being held in Karachi and Kamal set out with her brother, taking the bus and train for the first time in her life. 

This determination and quest to aim high has stayed with Kamal throughout her life, despite setbacks. She lost her parents at an early age, but this did not stop her from continuing that winning streak. “My parents weren’t around to see me get a BA from Allama Iqbal Open University, a B.Ed from Punjab University, start my career, and rise through the ranks in the 29 years I have worked at AKES,P.”

Looking at the value education has added to Kamal’s life, her older sister, who dropped out of school, now wishes she had persevered. “I wish you had forcefully dragged me to school,” Kamal recalls her sister saying. 
Every morning, Kamal gets up at five in the morning and after sending her own children to school, she walks or hitches a ride to DJ Middle School Gitch. Her students greet her as she enters the schoolyard filled with trees and flowers. Reflecting on her life and work, she comes back to the medal she travelled all the way to Karachi to receive: “I still have that letter and medal. I couldn’t dream of throwing them out. That was just the beginning of my becoming.”