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I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress that women have achieved– B.R Ambedkar.
Amidst all the propagation of messages ,Slogans, widespread number of documentaries on Women Empowerment on social media, issue of being a feminist and huge media coverage of eminent Social Activists, Politicians and Celebrities coming forth to discuss and work for better society, stressing on the important role of women in over all socio-economic development of our country, contributing to change of mind set, we have still to go a long way toward accomplishment of this goal and education for girls being the core of this gradual improvement and change.
On one hand we are experiencing positive changes, active participation of women in different affairs, their outstanding examples of individual achievements, and a definite improvement in their general condition over the years, yet on other hand our multifaceted society formed on the urban/rural grounds, caste and class system and rich/poor dimensions still continue to pose parameters to the extent of their education in major section of society – Should she study or not? Where should she study? What should she study? Till what level should she study? The one who make these decisions of their life are the men and family belonging to any strata of our society, but with fallacious mentality.
Come , let’s take a walk through their life…
Seema is a daughter of a rikshaw-puller in a small city of India . It’s the family with poor ability to pay the cost of education. To lower the burden of expenses her education is ignored over their sons. The girl forgoes her education for the sake of her brother’s education.
Radha, daughter of a bank clerk who virtually carries a legacy of being from affluent caste, is asked to opt for education in courses traditionally considered more suitable for girls such as arts and education, though she desires to be an engineer. It is just because her family is already bearing her brother’s engineering expenses and these courses related to science and technology have higher fees structure. This is a family struggling between societal pressure of having image of being well off but facing financial vulnerability at core. She is to be married with probably a good dowry one day while the son would add income to the family. He may also contribute a good amount to this dowry.
Sonam, daughter of a farmer in a villager is facing restriction from going to college and continuing higher education due to distance of college from home and fewer number of female faculties. This has been reason for higher college dropout of many girls like her in India.
Likewise, Pooja, being a member of affluent family having all resources and facilities and living in Urban India, she was asked to have higher education as it may increase the probability of getting a Well Qualified good earning groom which may be the demand of other face of society. Where as she is not allowed to continue her Post graduation due to fear that it may lead to difficulty in getting right groom as the other family may not accept woman more educated than men counterpart.
Isn’t the critical financial condition a good excuse for turning a blind eye to Seema’s education? Can Radha not pursue her desired field of education, become an engineer, be self-independent, as an active human capital contribute to nation’s economic development, democratically hold the decision making ability of her life and marry without dowry. Will this not provide financial stability and real image of being well off in the society? Again, distance of college is a good escape and isn’t it that number of female faculty will increase if Sonam’s parents allow her to continue studies and be the one? Pooja can continue to study further, can have her one identity along with family name. Should the marriage be the ultimate destination of her education or aspect to set parameter to her studies? We have many such girls in our country struggling for their desire and need to study, earn money, be self reliant, have own identity, serve society further and hold ability to take decision of their life.
The democratic process in India has created the awareness among the women about their plightful condition. The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favor of women. Both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six to fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26).
But we need to rethink, is it the Government’s sole effort that would change the situation! Actually, it’s the defected thoughts of people in this progressive country. The elder generation is required to be more liberal to us and future ones. It is the need of time. Improvement and positive changes will occur only when it is initiated, that too at individual level. Education brings no harm. We, belonging to well-educated society can also contribute to this change. Sometimes a simple conversation can change the prospective of person and make him see things differently, in a better way. Sometimes a bit more effort is required at certain instances . We usually have such girls around us, as daughters of maid in our house or work place, a street food seller, the washer man, the man who works at your farm far in your village or a good rich friend of yours who often takes pride on being traditional while being ignorant of his conservative approach. Speeding towards our achievements we neglect them. Certain changes can be brought with little effort and meager or zero investment. I write here as I feel that even an awareness created is a worthy input.
Education is primarily a long term investment done by individual or the government for future economic development of state. In a girl’s case, it is the root, the strength of her empowerment, giving her stronger sense of control over her own life and important life skills. While, the Government and responsible NGOs make their best effort to implement the well planned road map for educating Girl child, establishing social stability and creating equal opportunity, it’s actually the change in mindset and attitude of men and women in this multifaceted society which eventually matters to change the scenario and bring the improvement in socio-economic condition at both smaller and larger scale. Let’s play our small but significant role in this great contribution to positive change.