A couple of months ago, we set up a drawing contest in the schools of Pali, in Rajasthan. Our staff asked students to draw their thoughts on education. Most drawings featured child labor and underage marriage.
One of the most striking drawings was done by 9-year-old Gauri. On the left she crayoned a boy and a girl walking around a sacred fire, the symbol of Hindu weddings. The girl is wearing a traditional outfit: a lehenga and a veil. On her chest you can see a mangal sutra, which is the necklace worn by married women – the Indian equivalent of a wedding band.
Both kids seem unhappy and even though they are holding hands, their faces look stern and helpless.
On the right hand side of the paper, Gauri drew the same children, smiling happily. They are wearing school uniforms and walking towards a building where the words 'Rajasthan High School' are written.
Gauri’s drawing is an insightful representation of what young girls endure in Rajasthan. In this rural state, 68% of the girls are married before the legal age and 40% drop out before reaching 5th grade. Education is a right in India, and child marriage is not legal any more – nonetheless old customs are long to die. If we want to change this, mentalities have to evolve and parents have to understand the importance of educating their daughters instead of marrying them off so early.
This is the reason why Educate Girls interacts directly with the communities to provide quality education for all and to give girls better opportunities in life.
Our Team Balika, a cohort of 1,600 volunteers, works tirelessly to leverage the learning outcomes in the three districts where our program is implemented. They train parents to form School Management Committees in order to assess their schools and help teachers and school masters introduce creative learning techniques into the classrooms.
By empowering villages and giving them tools to improve their local schools, literacy rates climb up by 25%!
This month we are celebrating our 6th-year anniversary and are proud to have enrolled more than 50,000 girls into school during that time. If things go as planned, gender inequality will eventually become history in India.
When this happens, girls like Gauri will not draw gloomy pictures of child marriages anymore.
If you want to contribute, support our program by telling your friends and family about our work. We are also grateful for any donation you can make:
Thank you for your generosity!
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child