Girls Educations  
 
Education for Empowerment
'Education for empowerment' has been a handy slogan for the government while promoting the rights of a girl child. But what does March 8 (International Women's Day) mean for millions of girls in India who cannot attend or finish school because they have to graze cattle, labour in the house or fields, or are sexually harassed and humiliated by their teachers/principals?
 
 
Does empowerment mean anything at all to Sana, 7, who is in Class 2, lives in Madhubani district of Bihar and works in the local landlord's house? Sana goes for her morning shift 7 am to 9.30 am to the haveli, then attends school 10 am to 4 pm and is back again for the evening shift from 6 pm to 10 pm. Her parents work with the same landlord as bonded agricultural labourers. Most probably, Sana will not be able to study beyond Class 5. Her circumstances won't let her.
 
 
It's not as if the government is unaware of the issues at stake. In fact, central and state governments have devised excellent policies to improve the conditions for girls' schooling. Schools are closer to homes, scholarships and mid-day meals have been introduced in many districts, and community mobilization focused on girls' schooling is encouraged in many areas.
  How we failed?  
 
Despite such ambitious plans, the harsh reality is that government-run schools are hardly in a position to act as agents of progressive social transformation - even as these are the only schools making any realistic attempt to reach out to large numbers of girls. Parents - even in patriarchy-ridden rural north India - want to send their girls to school. But schools purvey gender stereotypes, hardly different from the rest of society.
 
 
Schools fail to take note of endemic violence in homes, on streets and in communities. There is no counseling for girls who have difficult lives. There is no attempt to address the emotional and psychological needs of children. In fact, there is explicit violence even within the schools - beating, abusive language, and (difficult to research) gender-based, including sexual violence
 
 
20% of school-age girls in India are not in school. With a national population exceeding 1 billion that means 27.7 million girls (ages 7-14) are not receiving formal education (Census of India 2001). Data on excluded girls is limited, but it is accepted that multiple exclusions restrict girls' participation in school. Of the nearly 50 million children 7-14 years old not enrolled in school in India, 55 percent are girls. This figure is disproportionately high, as girls represent just 48 percent of all children aged 7-14 years old
 
  Importance of Educating Girls  
 
Educated women are more likely to be aware of the importance of population control and taking their and their children’s health concerns more seriously. According to the organization Gender and Food Security, female education “significantly improve[s] household health and nutrition, lower[s] child morbidity and mortality rates, and slow[s] population growth.” And a 2005 United Nations study found that, “Education also helps to delay age at marriage and increase age at first child birth, thereby reducing the fertility rate. Awareness of the cost of children, increased knowledge of contraceptives, improved communication between couples, and sense of control over one’s life are also influenced by education, which in turn leads to smaller and healthier families,” (United Nations, 2005).
 
 
Educated women are also more likely to stand up for themselves, understand their rights, participate in household decision-making, and to contribute to community or national politics.
 
 
Not only does education benefit the person learning, but also the community in which they live. Education contributes to the economic stability of any given nation by increasing the income of the poor. Research has shown that no country has sustained consistent economic growth without a significant nation-wide literacy rate. In addition to economic stability, education promotes civil and international peace, as well as cultural tolerance and understanding
 
 
On a grand scale, research has illustrated that educating women and girls leads to an increased overall development and wellbeing both in communities and countries where females are educated.
 
 
What We Do?
 
 
Over the years, IWWF has successfully evolved the Education Model in villages and urban slums of India. Currently, IWWF funds schools in several parts of country for the children of underprivileged sections of the society. We are involved in providing education to girls who had never been to school or who are early drop-outs. This non-formal education prepared them to enter the formal government run schools after 2 - 3 years.
 
 
Additionally IWWF fund also adult literacy programme which aimed through non-formal education and counseling to combat violence against women.
 
     
 
 
 
 
  Copyright@ 2009 India Women Welfare Foundation