“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school.
All I want is education.
And I am afraid of no one.”
– Malala Yousafzai
Let’s imagine a family which has two children, one son and one daughter. The parents are in such a condition that they can educate ‘only one’ of their children. Who do you think they will educate? The problem over here is not the ‘question’; the problem is the ‘answer’ which we get.
Indian society in general is highly male dominated and patriarchal. The idea of the female gender as being ‘weaker sex’, the ‘inferior’ is something which has penetrated deep into the mindsets of the people, mindsets which need a change, mindsets which think of ‘education for girls’ as a favor in general. The scenario is of ‘course changing but not as much as needs to. The image of ‘going to schools, carrying schoolbags and learning new things’ is but a distant dream for many girls.
It is really sad that even when education is provided to a few, the society ultimately aims at providing ‘educated’ housewives rather than an educated citizen who is independent and has no boundaries of achievements and success.
Here are some facts on girl’s education in India:
India’s GDP would rise by $5.5 billion, if 1% more girls were enrolled in secondary schools. (Source: CIA World Factbook, Global Campaign for Education, and RESULTS Education Fund.)
About 47% of girls in India are married prior the legal age of 18. (UNGEI)
Only 16.8% of schools in Meghalaya have usable toilets in schools. (ASER Centre)
There is more than a 20% point enrollment gap between girls and boys for secondary school in states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. (FHI 360)
For every 100 girls in rural India, only 1 reaches class 12.
A survey done by the International Center for Research on Women in 2004 on the well-being of adolescents in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand, found that the girls who were educated, married later; these girls were also less likely than girls who married before 18 years to report being beaten, slapped, or threatened by their husbands.
The reasons for parents not sending their daughters to school are in most cases are sociological. The idea that a woman’s ultimate goal is to get married is also highly problematic. Investing too much on a girl’s education is considered to be futile because she is never considered to be capable of financially giving back to her family. She is never seen as an equal contributor to the family’s overall income.
The whole notion of men working in offices and women working in kitchens is also very problematic as it restricts the women to remain in the domestic sphere and gives men a privileged access to the public sphere.
Even if primary and secondary education is provided to all girls, only a few privileged are able to continue with their tertiary education. In remote areas where schools have distant locations, parents usually fear for their daughter’s safety and consequently stop sending them to schools.
Although there has been certain progress, a majority of Indian families train their girls to remain hidden behind the walls, to remain silent and bear with all the injustices which are forced upon her from time to time. They are trained to be ‘voiceless’ and ‘submissive’ because if given a choice, who would not want an education? Who would not want to earn an income? Who would not want to be independent?
Article by Shivangi Mehta, Intern, Yes! I Am Happy