It would not be wrong to say that a lot of girl children in India are victims of patriarchy, archaic mindsets, misogyny and oppression that limits their development. Lack of awareness about the need to educate the girl child, menstrual issues and child marriage are some conundrums we are yet to do away with.
There are, however, some conscientious women who are trying to elevate the lives of thousands of females through awareness, campaigns and other noble initiatives.
Read on to know about 5 such women:
Murmu is a tribal girl from Odisha who founded Parivartan in her community to address the problems related to girl child education, early marriage, myths surrounding menstruation and overconsumption of liquor by men leading to domestic violence against women.
She also personally mentors people about the need to maintain a girl’s health, that violence needs to be stopped and education should be for all, not just for boys.
2. Dr. Harshinder Kaur
Dr Harshinder Kaur is Ludhiana-based paediatrician and writer who has adopted more than 300 girls and has spent 15 years fighting the evil of female foeticide in Punjab almost single-handedly.
She had grown passionate about the cause when she saw a pack of wild dogs tearing apart the body of a newborn girl child on a garbage dump. The villagers told her that the baby had been dumped by her mother because the mother’s in-laws had threatened to throw her and her three older daughters out if she gave birth to another girl.
Till now, Kaur has addressed around 223 schools, colleges and social functions over the years. She uses radio and television to propagate her message. Her articles on these subjects are widely published in various newspapers and magazines in India and abroad.
3. Rubina Mazhar
She is the founder and CEO of SAFA, a self-funded organisation that believes in and works for the socio-economic empowerment of women by income generation and education. Her organisation sponsors English medium education to children coming from below poverty line families with a focus on the “vulnerable” girl child. They also sponsor young girls for college education.
In an interview with SheThePeople.Tv, she said:
“My father always stressed that girls need to be self-reliant and have earnings of their own. When I saw the plight of women, irrespective of how literate, they were, they were totally dependent on their families for their sustenance. This sparked off many questions for me on the condition of women. I believe all the family members need to be equally participative for the well-being of the family and this can happen only with education and socio-economic empowerment of the woman and girl child.”
4. Safeena Hussain
Safeena Husain is the woman behind Educate Girls. An active social worker, Husain’s Educate Girls currently works with over 21,000 schools across 15 districts in India. The pilot plan started in a school in Pali district in 2004. So far, the organisation has enrolled over 200,000 girls in schools, claiming to have retained 90% of their students. Educate Girls focuses on three objectives – increased enrolment and retention of girls and improved learning outcomes for all children. It follows systemic reforms as its program model.
5. Aditi Gupta
Menstruation and the taboo surrounding it is one issue that thwarts a lot of girls from going to schools, seeking education, taking part in a lot of activities and leading a normal life. Identifying the need to ameliorate the lives of these girls, Aditi Gupta and Tuhin Paul started Menstrupedia in 2013. It is a full-fledged comic book making its rounds not only in India but in 15 other countries. Her comic book is a commendable endeavour to introduce menstrual education in schools.
In an interview with SheThePeople.Tv, she recalled how her friends and family, who are in their 20s, always come up to her and told her that if the Menstrupedia comics were available while they were in school, they would look at their bodies much differently.
These women and their passion for empowering the girl child is commendable. We hope the number of such women increase manifold in the future.