Islamabad (PR) - The UN International Day of the Girl Child 2014 was celebrated with compassion, enthusiasm, pride and appreciation by students of Roots School System, DHA-I/ Ivy International campus Islamabad, to acknowledge girls as a population that faces grave challenges including gender inequality and violence, child labour, early marriage, discrimination at home and to promote girl child rights to end gender inequalities.

This day was celebrated to recognise girls’ rights and the difficult challenges girls are facing around the world, says après release issued here on Wednesday. The class project LGCF ‘Liberating the Girl Child Foundation’, which was started by Neha Omair when she was a 7th grader has now evolved into the most accomplished Rotary Interact Club , with more than 1,500 registered members worldwide. The main objective of this foundation is to promote gender equality in education in Pakistan where female education is limited or non-existent beyond the primary level. President LGCF Neha Omair shared the project milestones from 2009-2014 including the construction of an IT lab & library at the Government School, Kothan Kalan, Morgah, Rawalpindi, as part of the voluntary student community service of LGCF after completing the initial renovation phase through the fundraising. LGCF aims to give every child the best start in life and to open the doors of literacy and education for all the children of Pakistan, especially children from the rural areas of Northern Pakistan.

Khadija Mushtaq, CEO Roots Ivy International/ Executive Director of Roots School System, DHA-1 campus, Islamabad, has continued to diligently promote and encourage empathy and community services amongst all students and follow the fundamental philosophy of Roots that was inculcated 26 years ago by Founder Roots School System Riffat Mushtaq. While addressing more than 1200 LGCF volunteers and students of the adopted government school on girl child day, Khadija Mushtaq said, “The LGCF project is very touching and heartrending as it is not just about building the infrastructure and renovation of the government school but it is about sharing the sentiments and bonding between the girls of the two segments of our society.”

Students joined hands to make this day extra special by conducting special activities including heartrending speeches by Neha Omair and Roots students that were heading other community service projects like flood relief work, voluntary teacher and student training programme in Kashmir, breast cancer awareness, elderly home care; girl child rights awareness campaigns, fund raising, cake cutting ceremony, wearing pink accessories to support this cause, poster competitions and giving special ‘Eidi’ goody bags containing bangles, clips, earrings, hair bands, jewelry and mehndi to the under-privileged girl students of Government School, Kothan Kalan, Morgah, Rawalpindi. The hall echoed with national songs like “Hum maaein, hum bhehenein, hum baitiaan” as everyone sang together in perfect harmony hoping for a brighter, enlightened, educated and prosperous Pakistan.

The chief guest Abdul HA Hakeem, Director UNESCO Pakistan, was delighted to represent UNESCO and share such warmth, mutual understanding and friendship with students of both the schools. He said, “I extend my congratulations and commend Founder Roots Riffat Mushtaq, CEO/ Director Khadija, Principal Nadia and LGCF president Neha on their initiative, commitment, mutual collaboration, guidance, dedication and leadership towards this project.

I have been very moved and touched today and extremely heartened to see all the efforts by Roots, LGCF and all the boys and girls. Without speaking you have conveyed the message of love, harmony and peace. UNESCO has the letter ‘C’ in it that stands for ‘Culture’ and Roots has portrayed the diversity of cultures in Pakistan so wonderfully. We need to recognize and appreciate this diversity that is universal. We have to build on the strengths of each other. Empower the girl child, address various forms of violence to overcome it and end it. Today I can see that these extraordinary students can shine for Pakistan and Roots and show to the world that they have so much potential to mobilize and change the world. LGCF is a catalyst for liberation and we have to play our own part to empower adolescent girls that is basically this year’s UN theme: ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the cycle of Violence’. We need to do this because they face more problems all over the world including violence from the very people that are near to them. Knowledge is the power that you need that is within each one of you. Girls’ education is the lifeline to empowerment and liberation. We have to collaborate and focus on mutual benefits. I extend my heartiest congratulations to the foundation and all community service project members for doing such an outstanding job. Now the difficult part is to sustain these projects and continue them in the future. I congratulate each one of you.”

The term “Girl Child” is commonly used to distinguish the difficult challenges faced by girls under the age 18 from those faced by women. The UN International Day of the Girl Child is celebrated to acknowledge girls as a population that faces grave challenges including gender inequality and violence. This year marks the third International Day of the Girl Child and mainly focuses on this year’s theme: ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the cycle of Violence’. This initiative began as a project of Plan International, an NGO operating worldwide. Girls can affect vital changes necessary to achieve equal rights and opportunities as boys so that they can fulfill their dreams and lead a normal, healthy life.