“You are as precious as a star, no one is like you”. Khadija, who is a sixth grader and the Secretary of the school’s student union empowers her colleagues in Minya, Upper Egypt with those words.

Despite her young age, she talks to them about child protection techniques and gender-based violence with confidence and wisdom.

“I learned that my body, especially my private parts, are my own, no one is allowed to violate my privacy and see or touch them.”

Khadija’s strong interest in women’s rights emerged when she joined the activities of “My School and I” project, which aims to cultivate leadership opportunities for girls through extracurricular activities and school participation and raise their awareness on gender and child protection in Beni Suef, Minya and Assiut.

The project’s events included working in groups and brainstorming different methods of stopping violence against women.

Khadija recounts “the activities’ facilitators talked to us about women’s rights, and raised our awareness on different violations that women are subject to.

We now know that violence is not only limited to physical violence like hitting and harassment, violence can be psychological too.

Being called names, shaming and labeling women, and refusing to publicly call a woman’s name in public and calling her by her husband’s name instead, are all types of psychological violence that women are subject to, and we must firmly resist and refuse”.

Khadija’s interest in her position as the students’ union president is driven from her love of helping others.

She likes to help her colleagues learn how to protect themselves from any violence, she also coordinates with the protection committee at school to ensure all the students are safe and secure.

Together with other members of the union, they took the initiative of involving the students in the process of transforming part of the playground into a garden, and asked the school’s principle to arrange for a “going green” class once a week, where all the students could practice gardening to beautify their school.

Khadija hopes to play an active role in protecting women rights so that she could one day witness her society free from violence against women.

The project is funded by Dubai Cares and implemented by CARE International in Egypt and targets 15,000 primary students (50% girls, ages 6-12) in 20 schools.

Additionally, it targets over 600 stake-holders such as teachers, social workers, board of trustees members, members of child protection committee, supervisors from the Ministry of Education, school administration members, Physical Education teachers, female leaders and school maintenance team members.