For young women and girls in India, the journey through education looks different. For them education has been a right for a while now. Since 2009, when the Right To Education Act was first introduced and enacted by the Parliament of India, India became 1 of 135 countries to make education a basic right of children. Unfortunately this law only allows education to be free to children up until the age of 14, however it is necessary to acknowledge that this law was an incredibly vital moment in history.
It is amazing to see that there has been a continual increase in literacy rates of girls in India. In 2010 the rate was 80.35% and between 2010 and 2021 the rate grew by 14.4%. In 2021 the rate was 91.95%. Yet despite the progress that has been made, there are still barriers to education, these include infrastructure problems within schools, safety concerns, housework and agricultural work, gender discrimination and early marriage.
Schools that lack basic necessities such as running water, working toilets and electricity can make it especially more difficult for girls to attend school during menstruation. Additionally due to gender discrimination, young girls are often burdened with the responsibility to take care of younger siblings and housework when their parents are working. Girls are at a higher risk of dropping out of school due to family responsibilities than boys and due to financial reasons families are more likely to invest in a son’s education than a daughter’s. The social and cultural norms and expectations only further increase these disparities. By encouraging marriage at a young age and reinforcing the importance of traditional domestic responsibilities over education for young women, the cycle of poverty is perpetuated.
It is imperative to recognize there are still 30 million children that are out of school and almost half of them are girls. In a 2019 TIMES article, the author states that the most significant challenge to girl’s education is housework. The TIMES explained “In a report last year, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had said around 40 percent of 15 to 18-year-old-girls were out of school and among them almost 65 percent were engaged in household work.”
It is not only building schools for children but also changing mindsets and creating access that solves the problem of inequity. ‘One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.’ These are wise words spoken by none other than the wonderful Malala Yousafzai. When reflecting on the overwhelming problems that don’t nearly seem to have as many solutions, I remember this quote.
Countless times in history we can analyze the most important moments being started by a single person that ignited change and brought others with them. Even for the names we don’t know and the people we don’t recognize, their work paved a pathway for others to follow. I wanted to end this article with spotlighting the amazing stories of young girl’s and women who have done just that, blazing their own trails for other young girls to follow.
Read these inspiring stories and share them with others!
Discover a story of three girl’s working together to achieve their dreams
Learn about one girls strength and determination to excel
Ways to help
Educate Girls works with the government, community and village-based volunteers called Team Balika to ensure every girl in the remotest parts of India is enrolled in school and learns well.
Give and its partners were born to bridge the gap between the people who want to make a difference through giving back and those who are doing phenomenal work but need more support.