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Women empowerment is great but for girls from the slums in India, it is still a pipe dream.
I always get very excited on receiving responses on my articles from readers across the world. I love to discover that my articles are able to influence women that need some push. I thoroughly enjoy reading the discussions that get ignited as a “comment” on my posts. Seeing a woman taking charge of her life, deciding what she should wear, how she must talk or walk, etc., amuse me to no end. However, I realise now that my articles are meant for women who are well-educated, that is those who understand English and are net-savvy, which basically constitute only a minuscule percentage of our population (less than 1%). The rest is full of those people who have no clue of the rights of women, no understanding of family planning, no idea of the importance of education and health.
As I walked down the streets of the slum where I teach, I saw the live paintings of real India in its rawest form; where a low-income family thrives with five kids; where an LED TV is a higher priority than computers (for kids); where spending money on marriage, property, bike or car is a higher priority than on education; where the girls are borne out of series of unplanned pregnancies in want of a boy-child, and are brought up only to be married off as soon as possible ; where the mothers are to bear the babies and cook food; where the boys are mostly involved in local gangs, putting boundaries on their sisters, with no achievements in life; and where the fathers are burdened with an endless list of daily expenditures.
To people here, admitting their daughters into a nearby local government school is all that takes to educating them. The mid-day meal and government funds work as a strong incentive for most families for sending their kids to the school.
I realise that all the articles on “women empowerment and education” that I have been reading and writing so far make no sense to this massive section of the society. To people here, admitting their daughters into a nearby local government school is all that takes to educating them. The mid-day meal and government funds work as a strong incentive for most families for sending their kids to the school. The parents are willing to come to school to enquire about the various funds that government gives them based on caste and category, but not to check their child’s progress. After coming back, if at all they go to school, the daughters must participate in the household activities. Forget Algebra and Geometry, learning basic addition and subtraction is a devil’s task for them. These girls rarely can speak about their feelings in their mother tongue, forget about speaking out loudly for women rights.
Nonetheless, after the commencement of this naked truth, the importance of the role we play in the society gets even stronger with each passing day. In a country where such a large proportion of our society is still in so much darkness, crimes are bound to happen; bad governments are elected; particles of corruption can smoothly run through the blood of people in power and position; and so much more. It’s like the passive smoking phenomenon in which “the one who shares the air with that of the smoking person, also shares its side effects whether he smokes or not”. So if we want a healthy and safe life for our families, we need to make sure that we are not breathing in an intoxicating air. The implications of illiteracy are larger than life.
The basic operation of addition and subtraction is a devil’s task for them, forget about the complex equations of Algebra and Geometry. These girls rarely can speak about their feelings in their mother tongue, forget about speaking out loudly for women rights.
And the sooner we realise it, the better!
Image via Shutterstock.
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