Have you ever wondered how your life would be if you had been married as a child?
What would you do if you had in-laws to look after and household chores to handle?
What would happen to school, games, and friends when the only thing that is important for you is serving the dinner on time?
In Rajasthan, India, these questions unfortunately form a part of daily lives of many young girls. Even today, 68% of them are forced into early marriage!
This disturbing tradition remains very prevalent even today and it burdens the whole society. In fact, it directly impacts the community’s economic growth and its social well-being. Underage marriage not only penalizes young girls but also their family and the entire community. As the UNFPA’s State of World Population Report sums up “If adolescent girls in India had been able to wait until their early 20s, the countries would have greater economic productivity equal to over $7.7 billion.”
Educate Girls challenges this status quo. We encourage communities to abandon this archaic custom of child marriage and send daughters to school instead. Since we started our program, six years ago, more than 52,000 girls have been re-enrolled into schools.
One such girl is Sharda.
She is 12 and had been out of school for two years. Her parents were thinking of marrying her, but thanks to our volunteer’s persistent follow up and counseling, she escaped this fate and got re-enrolled. After talking repeatedly with our team, her parents agreed to send Sharda back to school and wait for a few years to get her married.
Had it not been for Educate Girls’ intervention, Sharda would have been expected to leave her family as soon as she reached puberty. She would have had to move into her in-laws’ house where she would have been responsible for cleaning, cooking and taking the cattle to the grazing fields. With no education, she would have had no further prospect in life. She would have been confined to her home and dependent on her husband for everything in life.
Thankfully Sharda will not have to experience this.
She will study before getting engaged. Eventually, she will use her education and life skills learned in school to improve her employability and earning prospects. More importantly, she will be able to provide her own kids with education and a better health care. Thanks to education Sharda will reach her full potential and make a life for herself.
If you want to help girls like Sharda, support our program by telling your friends and relatives about our work. We also encourage you to donate online via Global Giving:
Thank you for your generosity!
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child
As the festival of Diwali spreads light and warmth around India, we at Educate Girls would like to thank all Global Giving donors for their generous donations!
Ensuring quality education for girls and helping them avoid child marriage is a daunting challenge, but thanks largely to your help; we already have achieved a lot in rural Rajasthan, viz:
- During the last 6 years, Educate Girls has managed to bring back 52,000 girls back to school.
- Girls’ enrollment has gone from 85% to 99% in the districts where Educate Girls runs its programs; which effectively means that most girls are now enrolled in the nearest government schools.
- We have seen a drastic improvement in learning outcomes. 60% of the children who attend our schools are able to read a simple story in Hindi. This figure was only 15% before we started working in these schools.
- Our program has rapidly grown from 500 schools to 5,500 schools in the last 6 years. Today there are more than 500,000 children who have benefit from improved teaching and better learning environments!
While these results are incredibly encouraging, we still have a long way to go before we manage even a semblance of parity in girls’ education and change the overall socio-economic situation for girls. Many of them are still kept away from school and denied basic education because of the age old custom of child marriage.
Last week we recounted the story of Meena, a young child bride whose parents have agreed to let her pursue her education. She is now studying and getting the opportunity to make a life for herself. Unfortunately, Meena is not the only child bride in her school.
Nisha, a 9 year-old student, too was destined to become a child bride until Varsha, one of Educate Girls’ volunteers, intervened and took action. Varsha met Nisha’s parents as soon as she heard the news. Varsha not only convinced them to cancel the wedding, but she also enumerated the several benefits of sending girls to school and convinced Nisha’s parents to send her to school.
Now, Nisha enjoys going to school and with the help of Educate Girls, she will be able to complete her education before she gets married.
This would not have been possible without the support of donors like you. We thank you for your generous donations. It does mean a lot to these girls and their future.
A year later, Child-bride Meena is still going to school thanks to Educate Girls
Last year Educate Girls started a powerful campaign on child brides by recounting the striking story of Meena, a young Rajasthani girl married away when she was just three-month old. Meena does manual labor and helps with house chores to support her family. With the help of Educate Girls, she also attends the local government school. Her parents have agreed to let her pursue her education in the hope that she gets a better chance in life than they did.
Meena is not an isolated case. In Rajasthan, 68% of the girls are married before the age of 18. Most of them are not even as lucky as Meena and drop out of school by grade 5. Without education, their chances to get good employment and have access to financial independence later on are dramatically fewer. In the picture above, Meena is standing with her schoolmates – many of whom are child brides or on the verge of becoming so.
Young girls in rural areas are often trapped into early marriage since their parents do not understand the importance of educating them. And yet, it has been demonstrated that an educated woman will earn 10% more income and have a healthier family than an uneducated one in the long run.
This is the reason why Educate Girls fights for girls’ empowerment in Rajasthan. By interacting with the communities, training teachers and improving the school infrastructures, we aim to offer these young girls the opportunity to make a life for themselves and break the pattern of under-age marriage.
In the coming weeks, we will be featuring the stories of Meena’s friends and testimonials from women working on educating them.
Stay tuned to learn more about their situation and what you can do to help them!
It’s been an exciting quarter for Educate Girls! We now operate in three districts of Rajasthan and impact more than 5,000 rural schools. Our program is expanding and we recently welcomed 400 new Team Balika members on board! These volunteers act as champions of girls’ education inside their community, where they make sure all girls are enrolled and retained into school.
We were particularly thrilled last July to host our first panel discussions in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. These events publicly introduced our Payment-by-Results (PbR) initiative, a solution to fund our programs depending on their effective results. This financing scheme requires different actors working together to ensure we deliver the best possible outcomes to our beneficiaries!
Our pilot program has already been launched in the district of Sirohi, where it will be run in approximately 200 schools until 2015. During these two years, our team will make sure that more girls benefit from quality education and have access to infrastructures that match their basic needs.
Now it’s your time to help! Your donation can make all the difference by sending Indian girls back to school and offering them the bright future they deserve! Thank you for your generous contribution!
Remember that on June 11th, on GlobalGiving's Bonus Reward Day your donations may be matched up to 50%! If's never been so easy to create an impact and help girls get educated!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.