Today marks the first International Day of the Girl–a day dedicated to fostering awareness of the value of girls throughout the world, and to thus create great opportunities for them. Unfortunately, the global reality is that girls face greater barriers than boys do; they experience higher rates of violence, poverty and discrimination. In our recent trip to India, we saw many of these barriers firsthand. We met women who had been married since their early teens, and girls who were not attending English schools when their male siblings were.
Stark gender inequalities exist in rural India (as they do across the globe), and these inequalities need to be addressed in the lives of young children rather than adults. Based on conversations with our partner organization in India, we know that girls who further their education and marry later in life have infinitely more opportunities. Instilling self-worth in young girls is essential if those girls are to be healthy and successful as adults.
As I’ve written about before, Indian widows are completely ostracized from society. The process of changing a long-standing cultural norm such as this one must obviously begin with a young generation of men and women.
The photo above was taken on our last day in India. Sara and I purchased saris during our trip, and had the privilege of getting a full sari tutorial from a group of orphan girls who were visiting the training centre we stayed at. These girls are the perfect example of the good that can come from equal opportunities. Each of these girls has been encouraged to work hard in school and pursue their individual career goals, just as boys their age would.
thisvillage believes that girls and boys deserve equal opportunities across the globe, and will be doing work in rural India to help those dreams become realities.
— Christie Esau