INDIA: Educating Girls -The Weapon Against Injustice



 Seated on a patio with an overhang surrounded by tables and chairs, Sweta Singh sits holding a cell phone. She has long dark hair, gold earrings, a red dress, and white shawl.

Photo Credit: Sweta Singh

Sweta Singh

Activist Sweta Singh shares how girls’ education can transform communities.

“Education gives us self-respect and makes us respected in society. It takes us out of darkness and shows us the right path, providing us with opportunities to brighten our future.”

An African proverb says, "If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation."

As a girl, my brothers were allowed to attend school, but I was deprived. When my brothers were allowed to go out and play, I had to stay home to do household chores. One day I finally told my father I wanted to go to school and study — to contribute to my family and not be financially dependent on anyone. My father agreed, with me becoming the first girl in my community sent to a missionary school. Encouraged by this, many families in my community sent their daughters to school.

Education is an essential part of human existence and the most powerful weapon we can use to change the mindset and condition of society. It’s the pathway for a nation's progress and the backbone of society. Education gives us self-respect and makes us respected in society. It takes us out of darkness and shows us the right path, providing us with opportunities to brighten our future.

Young women like me are helping girls in rural India access an education. We have implemented lunches to improve children’s nutritional status and offer extra-curricular activities and community building to remove barriers and make girls aware of the benefits of education. 

In many countries, women are typically seen as homemakers, while men are seen as breadwinners. As a result, there are several myths behind girls’ education: an education would prevent girls from doing domestic duties, they would have to travel through public places to reach school, it would take girls away from home, and a girl would choose not to marry.

My classmates and I volunteer at orphanages, elder homes, schools, and in rural Anganwadi, advocating for free education, adequate teacher training, and modern teaching methodologies. As a mentor, I’m heartened when my students learn from my lectures. Young people have the power to change the world and impact future generations. Girls’ education is our most powerful investment for our collective future. 

As a result of our advocacy, recently the Indian government's Digital India program has begun providing infrastructure and internet connectivity in rural areas. This is a positive step, but we must continue to improve girls' access to education through parental and community involvement, flexible school schedules, and locating schools close to home with women teachers, as many parents worry about girls traveling long distances and prefer their daughters be taught by women.

When girls are educated, they are less likely to be forced into marriage and pregnancy and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. They earn higher incomes, participate in the decisions that most affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families. Girls’ education strengthens the economy and reduces inequality. 

So let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.

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