THURSDAY, 11 APRIL 2024
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WHAT TAGS MEANS TO ME

By Sheherazade Amin

The “Teach A Girl how to Swim” campaign is one that I deeply relate to and thus am thrilled to be an advocate for. As a brown girl, who moved from London to Lahore in her childhood, this campaign highlights the idea of freedom in an otherwise relatively conservative society.

I learnt how to swim when I was just a few years old from a mother who was scared of venturing anywhere deeper than the shallow end of the swimming pool. I took up swimming competitively when I was just 4 years old and continued to do so until I was 16 years old and shortlisted for the Pakistan National Swim Team.

Swimming was always a source of joy for me. The moment I dove into my local club’s pool, I would feel at peace. I truly believe that swimming, as odd as it might sound to some, is almost a freedom of expression in South Asian societies, where women still have to prove that, “they didn’t ask for it.”

Other than it being a symbol of women empowerment, swimming is an essential skill in today’s climate crisis. Flooding has increased by tenfold in states such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and India and being able to swim can save your life. It’s odd to see thus that in these very states, very few women possess this skillset despite it also being the home to Olympians such as Rubab Raza.

It’s even more bizarre to note that this “talent” is gendered; more than twice the number of men know how to swim compared to women. This vast difference could be because of how modest most South Asian states still are and how private and almost exclusive swimming still is in these states.

I myself, can attest to the fact that there are more privately-owned pools by country clubs and individuals than there are government or local pools open to all. What is even more horrifying is that swimming is not taught as part of one’s curriculum at school.

It’s odd that in the United Kingdom it’s mandatory till sixth form but in states which are victim to constant natural disasters due to climate change, it’s an exclusive skillset which urban inhabitants as opposed to rural, possess.

“Teach A Girl how to Swim” (TAGS) ocuses on eradicating the disparity between both genders when it comes to swimming. It concentrates on introducing and teaching this life skill especially in the rural populace, where it’s most needed.

Above all, TAGS campaigns for the freedom of expression of women through the art of swimming and I am deeply honoured and humbled to be a part of such an amazing, life changing movement.

Sheherazade Amin is a young Pakistani former competitive swimmer, presently studying law in the UK


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