International Women’s Day Special – 08.03.17
The Plight of Underprivileged Girls in India.
Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Presidential Candidate and Secretary of State once said, ‘”We know that when girls have equal opportunities to primary and secondary education, cycles of poverty are broken, economies grow, glass ceilings are cracked and their potential unleashed.” Providing women with education and economic opportunities will benefit, not only their families, but also their communities and national economies. However, in India, an estimated 165 million women aged 15 and above were illiterate in 2015. In fact, even if they had attended school, only 1 in 100 graduated, as most dropped out due to the weak education system.
There are many reasons why families refuse to send their daughters to school. The main being a deep-rooted belief that girls will not benefit by education. Parents have expressed that ‘educated’ daughters would add little to no value to the family. Many have expressed that they are unable to afford the expenses associated with educating their daughters. Other issues include: child marriage; daughters working to help support the family; an absence of qualified female teachers and a lack of quality education. All these have led to the high level of female illiteracy.
Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, once said that ‘Women hold up half the sky’, which is a poignant reminder that both men and women contribute to society equally. When girls are not educated, society cannot adequately progress. Girls need to have the right knowledge and skills to contribute to society.
Research reveals that girls who are well-educated, earn 25% more income, they educate their own daughters, they have healthier children and they understand and exercise their rights in society. In fact, even infant mortality decreases by 8% for each year a woman stays in school. Women with better education also face a lower risk of violence. Despite these statistics, one in two women across India are not able to read and write.
Uttar Pradesh is 1 of 6 states in India that account for 70% of India’s illiterate population. By 2011, this state had a 80% male literacy rate and only 59% female literacy rate.
On July 29th, 2016, President of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP), Sushri Dr. Vishakha Tripathi Ji, was honored with the ‘Indian Icon Award 2016’ for her exemplary work in providing free education to young girls from primary to postgraduate level – in a rural area of Uttar Pradesh. Dr. Tripathi Ji also received the Mother Teresa Award, the Nelson Mandela Award and the Rajeev Gandhi Global Excellence Award for her exemplary work in providing free quality education to underprivileged rural girls. In addition to this and running one of the world’s largest spiritual organizations, Dr. Tripathi Ji is considered a role-model for women globally.
Under her leadership, Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat Education provides girls from rural villages with 100% free education. The educational institutions, Kripalu Balika Primary School (KBPS), Kripalu Balika Intermediate College (KBIC), Kripalu Mahila Mahavidyalay (KMM) are situated the rural town of Kunda, in the district of Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, India. Children living in and around this area, especially girls, are deprived of opportunities to receive even the most basic education. JKPE’s objective of offering free education has resulted in these educational institutions becoming a guiding force in the empowerment of underprivileged girls living in this region. The girls receive a high quality, well-rounded education to graduate and live better lives.
This inspiring true story of Manjusha Prajapati, a recent graduate of JKPE, is a successful case study of how education can transform these lives practically. Her father couldn’t send his daughter to school due to his low income. After learning about Kripalu Mahila Mahavidyalaya (KMM), her family applied for admission and was accepted. A few years later, she graduated with a BA degree, and in 2014-2015 was awarded the National Service Scheme Award at the institute’s annual award ceremony. After completing her studies, she applied for the position of a woman constable in the Indian Police force and was successfully selected.
Manjusha has said that she owes her education and success to KBIC and KMM. She says her father would not have been able to afford her education and had it not been for the free education and facilities provided by JKPE, she would not have been able to realize her potential and achieve her goal. She expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj and to Dr. Vishakha Tripathi Ji for their contribution to the thousands of girls who benefit from the free education offered by JKPE.
When asked about her work with these schools, Dr. Tripathi Ji humbly said,
“Our Guru (the Original Patron of Jagadguru Kripalu Education Society, Jagadguruttam Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj), inspired and guided the school from its early days and He always taught that it is necessary, especially if one has the capability, to give as much as possible, to Charity. He was keen to ensure that girls receive equal opportunities in education and was always known for encouraging all His devotees to gain a good quality education. It has become our goal at Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat to do the same. Our path is the path of God, and we want everyone, irrespective of race, gender or background to understand how to reach the true aim of Human Life.”
On this day, we encourage everyone to consider the plight of women in our society and to support those in need. For more information, please visit http://www.jkp.org.