#ThankstoEducation I Can Teach Girls the Skills They Need to Make Key Life Decisions
“Instead of being passive members of the family who are simply told what to do, they are becoming confident individuals who are active participants in family discussions — and in many cases even the change makers.”
When I was five my father died. With four children to raise, my mother had no time to mourn. She worked hard to feed my three sisters and me, and to send us to school. I missed her presence at home. There was no one to guide me into adolescence.
Today, thanks to the education my mother ensured I received, I am a social mobilizer for Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program, which guides girls in difficult circumstances through secondary education. I act as a mentor, role model and advocate to girls just like I was, providing them with the emotional support and life skills training they need to help them make important life decisions.
Every week I go into the slums of New Delhi to meet the families of girls who might benefit from our program. I have many positive experiences that make me tremendously proud. I’ve noticed that more girls can articulate their opinions confidently. Instead of being passive members of the family who are simply told what to do, they are becoming confident individuals who are active participants in family discussions — and in many cases even the change makers.
In talking with my students I also discovered that they discuss most of the topics they learn in our life skills training with their parents, siblings and neighbors. This means our Girls’ Education Program is reaching entire communities, which makes it all the more worthwhile.
For example, a student told me this inspiring story: one of her relatives asked her parents for a loan to marry off his 14-year-old daughter. Our student knew that, according to Indian law, the earliest allowable age is 18. So she and her brother persuaded their father not to make the loan.
Then the truly amazing part happened. The siblings explained to their relative the importance of letting girls get an education rather than marry early — and he listened! Their efforts stopped the marriage and the girl continues to attend school.
This means that what we teach our students — about human rights, about girls’ rights and girls’ education — goes beyond our students. We are affecting mindsets and how our communities treat women.