AP PHOTOS: In Pakistan, Ansa, 10, starts her day with prayer

 
 
Updated 10/11/2018 7:18 AM
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  • In this Tuesday, August 13, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan sifts through dry sugarcane peel and for use as firewood in Mardan, Pakistan. At just 10 years old, her day is a hectic one. At the first hint of dawn, she is up saying her morning prayers before reading her Quran, Islam’s holy book. Those are Ansa’s quietest moments. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles.

    In this Tuesday, August 13, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan sifts through dry sugarcane peel and for use as firewood in Mardan, Pakistan. At just 10 years old, her day is a hectic one. At the first hint of dawn, she is up saying her morning prayers before reading her Quran, Islam’s holy book. Those are Ansa’s quietest moments. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles. Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, while other children are enjoying their summer vacations, every morning Ansa Khan goes out to farm in Mardan, Pakistan. The farm produces tobacco, a major crop in Pakistan’s KPK. While her father and older brother harvest and shred the leaves from the tobacco plants, it is for Ansa, her older sister and mother to sew the leaves together to be dried.

    In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, while other children are enjoying their summer vacations, every morning Ansa Khan goes out to farm in Mardan, Pakistan. The farm produces tobacco, a major crop in Pakistan’s KPK. While her father and older brother harvest and shred the leaves from the tobacco plants, it is for Ansa, her older sister and mother to sew the leaves together to be dried. Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, July 25, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan, along with elder sister and neighbors, gather tobacco leaves in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies.

    In this Wednesday, July 25, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan, along with elder sister and neighbors, gather tobacco leaves in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies. Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, July 25, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan and the women in her family sort through tobacco leaves in Mardan, Pakistan. The family farm produces tobacco, a major crop their area. While her father and older brother harvest and shred the leaves from the tobacco plants, it is far Ansa, her older sister and mother to sew the leaves together to be dried.

    In this Wednesday, July 25, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan and the women in her family sort through tobacco leaves in Mardan, Pakistan. The family farm produces tobacco, a major crop their area. While her father and older brother harvest and shred the leaves from the tobacco plants, it is far Ansa, her older sister and mother to sew the leaves together to be dried. Associated Press

  • In this Monday, July 9, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan cools her feet with running water just adjacent to her home while her mother and sister are busy in their household activities and washing clothes and utensils in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies.

    In this Monday, July 9, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan cools her feet with running water just adjacent to her home while her mother and sister are busy in their household activities and washing clothes and utensils in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies. Associated Press

  • In this Tuesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan carries grass from the family farm, a daily afternoon chore, in Mardan, Pakistan. At the first hint of dawn, she is up saying her morning prayers before reading her Quran, Islam’s holy book. Those are Ansa’s quietest moments. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles.

    In this Tuesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan carries grass from the family farm, a daily afternoon chore, in Mardan, Pakistan. At the first hint of dawn, she is up saying her morning prayers before reading her Quran, Islam’s holy book. Those are Ansa’s quietest moments. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles. Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan takes a tea break in the late morning in Mardan, Pakistan. In rural villages of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, this brunch time tea is very important for all farmers and it is called as "Sakhtee chay" in Pashto language.

    In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan takes a tea break in the late morning in Mardan, Pakistan. In rural villages of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, this brunch time tea is very important for all farmers and it is called as "Sakhtee chay" in Pashto language. Associated Press

  • In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan first's work in the morning after breakfast is to recite the Quran with her religious teacher in her village in Mardan, Pakistan. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles.

    In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan first's work in the morning after breakfast is to recite the Quran with her religious teacher in her village in Mardan, Pakistan. After that her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles. Associated Press

  • In this Monday, July 9, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan feeds her small chicks and hens at her home in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies.

    In this Monday, July 9, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan feeds her small chicks and hens at her home in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies. Associated Press

  • In this Friday, August 10, 2018, photo,  in Mardan, Pakistan, Ansa Khan plays marbles on the dirt floor of her home. This is the most famous game in rural areas of Khyebr Pakhtunkhwa Province, which is played by small girls and boys both. (AP Photo/Saba Rehman).

    In this Friday, August 10, 2018, photo, in Mardan, Pakistan, Ansa Khan plays marbles on the dirt floor of her home. This is the most famous game in rural areas of Khyebr Pakhtunkhwa Province, which is played by small girls and boys both. (AP Photo/Saba Rehman). Associated Press

  • In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan and her sisters' combs are hang on the the mud wall of their house in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies.

    In this Wednesday, June 27, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan and her sisters' combs are hang on the the mud wall of their house in Mardan, Pakistan. Since 2012 the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International day of the Girl Child “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.” This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in the poorer economies. Associated Press

  • In this Friday, August 10, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan studies with a flash light during a power outage in Mardan, Pakistan. Ansa enjoys her school, saying her favorite subject is Islamiat. Electricity is not always reliable in Ansa’s Toru village and she is often forced to study by flashlight.

    In this Friday, August 10, 2018, photo, Ansa Khan studies with a flash light during a power outage in Mardan, Pakistan. Ansa enjoys her school, saying her favorite subject is Islamiat. Electricity is not always reliable in Ansa’s Toru village and she is often forced to study by flashlight. Associated Press

TORU, Pakistan -- She's just 10 years old, but Pakistani girl Ansa Khan's day is a hectic one.

At the first hint of dawn, she is up saying her morning prayers before reading her Quran, Islam's holy book. Those are Ansa's quietest moments. After that, her day is a whirl of chores, school, studying and the occasional moments stolen away to play marbles.

Since 2012, the United Nations has reserved Oct. 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child "to recognize girls' rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world." This year the theme is employable skills for girls, particularly in poorer economies.

Early marriage is often the first option for girls in many of the world's poorest countries and Pakistan is no different.

According to the global organization Girls Are Not Brides, in 2017, there were 1.9 million women in Pakistan between the ages of 20 and 24 who had been married off before they turned 18. The organization had an even higher figure for India - 15.5 million. There are no official figures for the current numbers of child brides.

Poverty and patriarchy are the oft-cited reasons for child brides.

But Pakistan also has its girl heroes, most notably the youngest Nobel Laureate, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by Taliban insurgents at just 13 years old for speaking out in favor of girls' education.

Yousufzai survived and made educating all girls everywhere her goal. She was only slightly older than Ansa when she first blogged for the BBC advocating education for girls, even as the Taliban burned girls' schools and threatened harsh punishments for those who would send their girls to school.

Like Yousufzai, Ansa is from Pakistan's conservative Khyber Pukhtunkhwa Province, which borders neighboring Afghanistan.

Also, like Yousufzai, Ansa enjoys school, saying her favorite subject is Islamic religious studies. Electricity is not always reliable in Ansa's village of Toru and she is often forced to study by flashlight.

Ansa's father, Tajbar Khan, said his young daughter often helps him on the land he farms for a large landowner in the area. She runs to help feed the cattle and spends hours with her mother making the dung or manure collected from the animals into large round cakes that are dried out and later used for cooking.

The farm produces tobacco, a major crop in the province. While her father and older brother harvest and shred the leaves from the tobacco plants, Ansa, her older sister and mother sew the leaves together to be dried.

This year's U.N. statement about girl child day calls for a focus on gaining skills.

"Of the 1 billion young people - including 600 million adolescent girls - that will enter the workforce in the next decade, more than 90 per cent of those living in developing countries will work in the informal sector - jobs that are not regulated or protected - where low or no pay, abuse and exploitation are common," the statement says.

"The most disadvantaged girls - including those in rural areas and those with disabilities - have even less access to decent work."

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