The Child Brides: Send Them to School instead

by Educate Girls
Kirti's back in school!

Kirti* is a young girl from a village in Rajasthan, India. She has two brothers and a sister. Her mother is illiterate, while her father has very basic literacy skills. Kirti’s parents are farmers. The family lives in an area where henna, a plant used for natural dying, grows abundantly. Most households earn their main source of income from the harvest. The usual scenario for girls like Kirti in her village is to drop out after completion of primary school and then either start helping with the cultivation or stay home and do domestic chores.

In Kirti’s village, after primary school, one has to travel to another village, which is 5-7 kilometres away, to continue their secondary schooling. Since there are no easy means of transport available, Kirti dropped out of school and stayed at home once she had completed 5th grade.

An Educate Girls’ Team Balika (community volunteer), Bablu Kanwar, visited Kirti’s home. On being asked about Kirti’s further studies, her father spoke of his reluctance to send his daughter far away for schooling. It was unsafe, expensive and futile in light of the fact that she wouldn’t really need an education to be a wife and mother in the future. Kirti remembers feeling distressed during this conversation. She wanted to protest and express her desire to study but knew she had no right to speak against her father’s wishes. Bablu challenged Kirti’s parents to change their mind-set concerning their daughter’s education. He explained why it was important for adolescent girls to study and be empowered and how not just their family but their entire community could progress when both girls and boys get educated.

Bablu continued visiting Kirti’s home to persuade her parents to send her to school and soon he became Kirti’s new inspiration. Kirti knew that in spite of the lack of facilities, Bablu was the first person in their village to have completed his 12th grade. She questioned, “If he could study, why can’t I?”

Eventually Bablu took Kirti’s father to the closest KGBV (Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya), a government-run, free residential secondary school for girls, which is 25 kms away from their village. Finally, Kirti’s father agreed to enroll her in the KGBV. Kirti still remembers how she rushed out of her home to tell the good news to her friend when she heard it from her father.

Kirti and two other girls from her village were enrolled in the KGBV through Educate Girls’ efforts. Even though Kirti was excited to go back to school, she was apprehensive about staying away from home and wondered if the new teachers and environment would suit her. At first, Kirti felt home-sick and considered leaving. Her teacher helped her understand that going back home was not an option if she truly wanted to study further. Now, in the second year of her studies at the KGBV (7th grade), Kirti acknowledges that her teacher was right, “I am so grateful that Ms. Shobha didn’t allow my emotions to come in the way of what was good for me. If I had not followed her advice I wouldn’t be here, pursuing my dreams!”

One of the things Kirti loves about the KGBV is the fact that it has so many girls, from different villages and castes, all living together without any discrimination. Within many of their villages, caste discrimination is still prevalent and widespread. Even at this young age Kirti is sensitive to gender discrimination as well. She says, “No one listens to the women! Our voices are seldom heard. Even here at school, girls don’t easily express their desires.”

Kirti wants to become a police officer in the future and wishes there was a secondary school in her village so that all the girls could continue studying without impediment: “I want to serve my country as a law enforcer, use my voice to fight for good and encourage others to do the same. I want every girl in my village to be educated! If they study they will have more opportunities for development and they will find their own voices, just like I have found mine!”

*Name changed to protect identity of the minor

Educate Girls is an Indian NGO that tackles gender discrimination in education. We work towards achieving quantifiable impact by enhancing the government’s existing investment in rural schools in some of India’s most educationally backward districts, using our three-pronged approach of enrollment of all out-of-school girls, retention in school and improvement of learning outcomes. We value your partnership in helping us get more girls into schools!

Learn more about us on our Website.

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A school dropout, Suhani was confined at home
A school dropout, Suhani was confined at home

Suhani* (12), used to go to school until a few years ago. Unfortunately, Suhani struggled with making progress in reading and writing and had no way of getting support to improve her learning. Her parents rationalized that she wasn’t gaining much and so they stopped Suhani’s schooling. Suhani was then confined to cooking, cleaning, fetching water and taking care of her younger siblings at home.

Narayan Lal Sarel and Team Balika Manju (Educate Girls’ field coordinator and community volunteer respectively) went door-to-door within Suhani’s village in the Jalore district of rural Rajasthan and identified Suhani as an out-of-school girl.

They spoke to numerous families, including Suhani’s, urging them to educate their daughters. Suhani’s parents were convinced that she couldn’t really benefit much from school. Excelling at household chores would be far more advantageous. After all, serving her husband and his family was her sole destiny. What was the point of investing in her education? The entire community shared this way of thinking.

Suhani says, “When Narayan ji spoke to my parents it had been 3 years since I dropped out of school. I did not know the importance of or feel the need for education. How could I? Most of the girls in my village were working at home, like I was, or were already married. It wasn’t odd. I didn’t know there was something else I should or could be doing.”

Many villagers were not always open to listening when approached individually. Narayan and Manju conducted community meetings in the village and spoke in length about the importance and benefits of education and how girls could contribute to the development of their community if given equal opportunities.

People weren’t comfortable with sending their adolescent daughters to school. Often, afraid that they could “get out of hand”, which would be detrimental as they were approaching marriageable age.

The villagers were then told about Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), the free-of-cost residential government secondary school for girls (Class 6 to 8). Girls from many adjoining villages would be studying there, the teaching and administration staff would be all-female and since the teachers were residents, after-class coaching for students could be provided.

Manju took Suhani’s mother to the school, showed her the classrooms, lodging, kitchen and playground. She was introduced to the teachers and principal and was shown how Educate Girls used creative learning and teaching (CLT) techniques to improve quality of education. Suhani’s parents finally agreed that studying at the KGBV would be good for her.

Today, Suhani and her younger sister are both in school. Suhani took a bridge course to equip her with the basic learning levels needed and was entered in Class 6. She also receives extra help when she needs it. Narayan and Manju visit the school periodically and conduct Bal Sabha (Girls’ Council) sessions, engaging the members in activity-based games that can develop essential life skills.

On a recent field visit some Educate Girls’ staff members from Mumbai met Suhani as well. She shared, “Now I have understood that it is education and not just household work that will equip me better for my development. Education is about more than just textbook learning. It gives me the freedom of choice. I’m not sure yet what I aspire to be, but one thing is clear. I want to study for as long as I can!”

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Educate Girls works at community level to identify, enrol and retain out-of-school girls like Suhani, while also improving the quality of learning by using creative learning and teaching methodologies in school. We educate girls and give them better life chances. This would not be possible without the support of donors just like you! For this, we sincerely thank you on behalf of all girls that got back to school!

You can donate on and share the link to our project page:

Busy with house chores, sibling care, cattle, etc.
Busy with house chores, sibling care, cattle, etc.
Educate Girls spoke to Suhani
Educate Girls spoke to Suhani's family & community
Now, Suhani is enrolled in school!
Now, Suhani is enrolled in school!
Suhani learns better in a creative classroom
Suhani learns better in a creative classroom
Educate Girls further supports Suhani & her peers
Educate Girls further supports Suhani & her peers


Manju* is 11. Her days were spent in cooking for her family and undertaking domestic chores, craving to go to school, until her path crossed Educate Girls! Now she has leadership on her mind!


Manju lives in a small village in the tribal belt of Rajasthan. Her father is a stonemason. Manju is the youngest among 5 siblings. Her elder sister was married off at an early age and had never been to school. While Manju was busy cooking at home for her family, she used to watch the children in her village march to school every morning with longing.

In 2014, Educate Girls had organized a Gram Shiksha Sabha (village meet) in Manju’s village. The purpose of this meeting was to inform the community about the importance of girls’ education and to try and better understand what was preventing the parents in the village from sending their daughters to school. Kailash Kumar, a Field Coordinator working with Educate Girls, gathered basic information about girls who were not in school. Manju was one of them.

Kailash visited Manju’s home, where her parents strongly objected to sending her to school as she contributed significantly to all domestic chores like cooking, fetching water, cleaning and taking the goats for grazing. Her parents were not ready to discuss the matter and practically begged Kailash to leave.

Notwithstanding, Kailash made repeated visits to Manju’s home, getting her parents to see that his intentions were genuine. He explained to them how Manju would benefit from education, how she would be better equipped for her future, to socially and economically contribute to her family and community. After persistent and numerous interactions, Manju’s parents confided in Kailash that the major reason they were unable to send Manju to school was their regular migration to nearby towns in search of contractual labour jobs. Having understood their constraints, Kailash informed them, in detail, about the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya (KGBV), which is a government-run residential school for girls.

Manju’s parents finally agreed to send her to KGBV, on condition that some more girls from their village enroll in the same school. Kailash’s efforts eventually bore fruit and two more girls, along with Manju, were enrolled.

Today, Manju is happy to be in school and learning well. When asked about her ambition, she assertively replied, “I want to be a Sarpanch (Head of Local Village Government). If I can stop child marriage, girls like my sister won’t have to give up studying. I want to work for my entire village, not just for the girls. I’m so grateful to Educate Girls because now I have a chance to make my dream a reality”.

*Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.


Thousands of girls are not attending school in Rajasthan, one of the Indian states with high gender-disparity in education. At the root of this phenomenon lieswidespread discrimination against women and patriarchal views on gender roles. Girls are often seen as a liability and are bereft of receiving equal opportunities.

Educate Girls’ endeavors to identify each and every out-of-school girl, gain the families’ trust and find solutions together to get them to school. We also advocate the cause of girls’ education and raise awareness amongst the whole community.

The generosity of donors just like you, has enabled Educate Girls to enroll over 80,000 girls living in underserved communities in Rajasthan and presented them a better chance at the life they deserve. For this, we whole-heartedly thank you!

Learn more about Educate Girl’s impact through our website!

You can donate on:

 DON’T FORGET - the next Bonus Day is on July 15, where Global Giving will match donations 50%. Your partnership is valued.


Kavita with her sisters
Kavita with her sisters

*Kavita is 12 and belongs to a small village located in the district of Ajmer in Rajasthan, India. Her family comprises her parents, an elder sister, two younger sisters and two younger brothers. Their life has never been a cakewalk! Kavita’s parents are uneducated. Her father has been bedridden because of a prolonged ailment. With lack of work opportunities and so many mouths to feed, the family’s economic condition has not been ideal. To add to Kavita’s plight, she was married off and became a child-bride five years ago. In order to curb the expenses, Kavita’s marriage was held during an event when the community had gathered for an altogether different occasion.

It is common in Kavita’s community to get their daughters married at a young age. The young girls have no say in when and who they wish to marry. The parents of the girl are relieved by early marriages as they can save on having to pay for heftier dowries later on (the amount of dowry expected is significantly more for an older, educated and employed boy).

Three years ago when her father was rendered completely unfit for work, the burden of taking care of the family fell on Kavita and her elder sister. Her uncle helped take care of some expensive medical bills as and when he could, but every other expense had to be met. Her sister found work as a laborer in a factory and took up some other odd jobs that provided daily wages. Kavita’s mother attended to her husband, took care of the younger children and did other chores like going to collect wood for the stove, getting water etc. Kavita was compelled to drop out of school because of the increased household responsibilities and taking care of her younger siblings. The local school was 3 km away which made it difficult for the younger sisters to go to school.

An Educate Girls Field Coordinator, Dharmendra, got to know about Kavita through a Child Tracking Survey list. As a part of Educate Girls’ door-to-door survey, Dharmendra visited Kavita’s house to be able to assess her situation and see how best to bring her back to school. Kavita’s mother explained their domestic and economic conditions and expressed her concerns over the buying of books and uniforms and Kavita’s involvement in household chores. Dharmendra told Kavita’s mother that under the Government of India’s Right to Education (RTE) Act, elementary education in India is free and compulsory for all children. There is no direct or indirect cost to be borne by the child or the parents to obtain elementary education. Dharmendra also spoke about the benefits of educating girls and why it was necessary to get them enrolled in school. Kavita was delighted at the prospect of being able to resume her studies and get the opportunity to learn with other students again.

However, her parents were apprehensive and it took Dharmendra’s repeated visits and the involvement of school administration and village elders to finally motivate Kavita’s parents to give their consent. Dharmendra spoke to the school principal about arranging for text books and uniforms. Kavita was re-enrolled into Class 4 while her sisters were put in Class 3 and Class 1.

Today, Kavita is in school and learning well. She still contributes to house work, but tries her best to not let it hinder her attendance at school. She is happy that her younger sisters get to study as well. She sets aside time at home to teach her elder sister all that she is learning at school. She wants her elder sister to be able to pursue distance education.

More importantly, with advice from Educate Girls’ Team Balika (community volunteer) member in their village, Kavita’s parents have agreed to send Kavita to her husband’s home only after she has turned 18. Kavita’s husband is also studying and has been supportive of her dream of pursuing higher education in the future. Kavita says, “My sisters and I owe this second chance to Educate Girls. The day Dharmendra knocked on our door, we did not just open our door to him. We opened the door to a better present and an even better future!

Kavita is one of the 80,000 out-of-school girls who have been enrolled by Educate Girls and our Team Balika over the last 7 years. An educated girl will not only earn a higher income and benefit from better health; she will also get married later and have fewer, healthier and better educated children. Girls’ education is therefore a crucial trigger for economic and social development.

Educate Girls constantly strives to increase enrollment and retention at schools for the most marginalized girls and improve learning outcomes of all children. We have reached over 1.1 million beneficiaries in rural Rajasthan in 2014 alone.

Help us make a difference and donate now on Global Giving as we strive to improve access and quality of education for around 4 million children living in underserved communities in India by 2018.


Thank you for your generous support!

*Name changed to protect the identity of the child


Set the Bonus Day on your agenda!

On March 18, 30% of every donation made on Global Giving by credit card, PayPal, or a Global Giving official gift card will be matched. For instance, if you decide to donate $100, Global Giving will match your donation with a $30 bonus and Educate girls will receive $130. Hurry and make a donation soon to significantly increase your impact, since the donations are matched ONLY until funds last.

Donations can be matched from 9.00 am to 11.59 pm EDT -

On behalf of all the girls supported by Educate Girls - Thank You!

Sunita* is the oldest of four siblings.  When she was young she and her family lived in town.  She attended school daily and was very content. However, things changed when her father lost his job.  He tried to find more work, but was unsuccessful, and her mother had a disability, which meant she could not work. When their savings ran out, they were forced to leave and go back to their small village. Her father worked as a laborer on a nearby farm, but made a menial salary.  Some of their extended family tried to help, but eventually, in addition to helping with house work, Sunita had to start making and selling brooms to help make more money. She did not go to school.

After her 12th birthday, everyone became concerned with getting her married, as was the practice in her village.  However, because of her family's status and the fact that they would not be able to provide a dowry, finding a suitable match was difficult.  Many inappropriate matches were being suggested that Sunita knew wouldn’t be good for her.  One day she found out from a relative that her family had finalized a match without her knowledge. The man was much older than her, was a widower, and had two children around her age. 

Sunita thought it was a miracle when Sharda appeared at her doorstep.  Sharda was an Educate Girls Team Balika member. She had found out that Sunita was out of school and spoke to her family about the importance of education and the harmful effects of child marriage. At first her parents didn’t listen and continued to plan Sunita's wedding.  But Sharda set up a meeting with Sunita's parents and the village leader where they convinced them that it was in Sunita's best interest to go to school and not be married. Sunita still makes and sells brooms to help her family, but only when she is not studying. Because of Educate Girls, she is in school and not a child bride!

Through the efforts of our Team Balika, over 80,000 out-of-school girls have been enrolled in school.  While many families see early marriage as the norm, our staff and Team Balika work tirelessly to get families to prioritize girls' education. We believe that if more girls are educated now, they will have the potential to enter the formal economy, gain employment and lift their families out of poverty in the future.  Every donation makes a difference to many more lives like Sunita's and brings us closer to achieving our goal of reaching 4 million children in underserved communities by 2018.

Donate now:

Your support is priceless and appreciated! Thank You!

*name changed to protect the identity of the child.

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Organization Information

Educate Girls

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
Project Leader:
Safeena Husain
Executive Director
Mumbai, MH India