Last Sunday, March 8 marked International Woman’s Day. This years theme was: Make it happen!
In time for this event, my last project: Education Explorers, has released the trailer of the upcoming documentary about girl education in India – check it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-TFcGj7q88v (Watch it! Highly recommended!!)
Reflecting on the video, I could not help myself but be reminded of all the powerful and inspirational encounters I had along the way. There is one in particular I want to share:
I met Meena at the Sirohi, Rajasthan, in the local field office of our partner charity Educate Girls – via translator she told me her story:
Meena was born into a Rajput family living in a small rural family in Rajasthan, India. The Rajput community doesn’t believe in educating a girl; many families in her community do not even wish to bring a girl into this world because sh is seen as a liability. Meena grew up in a society where women were treated with inequality in all walks of life. Meena was lucky that her parents gave her the opportunity to study, but only until class 10 (ie age 15). She pleaded with her parents to allow her to continue her education after class 10 but she was told to pay attention to household chores and prepare for marriage instead. Soon after she was married, much against her wish.
Little did Meena know, she had another chance waiting for her. Her husband was a teacher, and understood the importance of education. Instead of risking her life with an adolescent pregnancy or being forced to work at home, Meena was re-enrolled in school. Though their parents disapproved, Meena’s husband supported her. She now holds a Bachelor’s degree in Education and is taking post-graduate courses. In the last few years she has started to bring back her story to the village and together with Educate Girl has worked with more than 50 communities and schools to share her story and get girls into school.
There is still a lot to do:
- Almost 3.7 million girls are not in school at all in India (some estimates go even as high as 8mm)
- Over 50% of girls in India between the ages of 10 and 13 drop out of school.
- The state of Rajasthan has 9 of India’s 26 worst gender gap districts in education, where 68% of girls are married below the legal age and 15% are married below the age of 10.
- Of girls who are enrolled in school in Rajasthan, only 1 in 100 will reach class 12 (ie go to school until 17), and 40% of girls leave class before class 5.
A lot of girls are not as fortunate as Meena, but they still deserve a chance.
During our trip we partnered with Educate Girls, a charity that finds out-of-school girls, enrolls them, and gives them an opportunity to realize their potential. Their holistic approach to education mobilizes communities to take a stand against gender disparity, involving parents, schools, community leaders, local government.
A team of village-based volunteers (Team Balika) ensure increased enrollment and retention of girls in schools, and improved learning outcomes for all students.
If more girls are educated, then their health, income levels and overall livelihoods improve, having residual effects on the surrounding community and society as a whole.
Meena’s story is an example of what can be achieved when a girl is given a chance for education.
If you want to support this mission please go to: https://www.ammado.com/community/150473
Every donation is doubled by UBS Optimus Foundation
Lets make it happen!