We need to educate girls – and boys – all children, irrespective of their gender. This video is a grim reminder – girls deserve to go to school and enjoy their childhood too.
“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.” — African Proverb
Education is, I believe, the greatest gift we can give a child irrespective of gender. It lays down the foundation for vibrant lives and is the ticket to a brighter and better tomorrow. Sadly in India and many other parts of the world, children and especially girls are denied this very basic right.
So why is girls’ education treated as an after-thought in India? Well, the roots of the reluctance to educate girls lie in patriarchal beliefs at the very core of Indian society. It is astonishing to see that even though some of the greatest leaders and change-makers in the world are women, the literacy rates among Indian women are dismal. Despite the high primary school enrollment rates in India, the female literacy rate as per the 2011 census stands at a meager 65.46%.
The key factor responsible for this miserable female literacy percentage in India is the higher drop-out rate of girls from school as compared to boys. Wonder why? Well, because in many parts of India, to educate girls is still viewed as a waste of time and money. From the moment a girl child is born, she is viewed as a burden. Parents worry more about her marriage than investing in her education. Adding fuel to the fire is the regressive social perception, that despite education, the primary role of a woman will always be that of the primary caregiver for the family, her key responsibility being towards her family and household, her only identity being that a mother or a wife or a daughter-in-law; “then, why bother to educate girls?” goes the thinking.
While the current government has announced the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign, a lot more needs to be done, to ensure that girls don’t just sign up for school, but stay there.
The Dahi Cheeni advertisement by the Naik Foundation is a heart-warming story of Sarita and her desire to go to school and study. We don’t know whether it is her parents’ economic condition or the regular patriarchal mindset at play, but despite being of school going age, Sarita stays at home helping her mother with the household chores – cleaning, cooking, waking up her brother every morning, packing his lunch box and watching him go to school everyday – all the while thinking and wishing that she could join him too.
However, it is refreshing to see her little brother noticing what his elder sister desires, taking matters into his own hands and doing something about it. What does he do? #KhabarLive