A detailed study has been undertaken by Indian Social Responsibility Network (ISRN) to document and compile Antyodaya based best practices as propounded by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya. This is an attempt to bring forth the efforts of all those who are working to uplift the last man in the society. This compilation was done in 2018-19. In this section of the website we are posting work and achievements of some unsung heroes, as documented by ISRN. – Editor
Here is the third post of the documented best practices. You can also read the earlier posts.
Education is an essential part of a living being, whether it’s a boy or a girl. Education helps an individual to be smarter, to learn new things and to know about the facts of the world. Education plays one of the most important roles in women empowerment. It also helps to put a stop to discrimination based on gender. Education is the first step to give women the power to choose the way of life she wants to lead. Founded in 1988, Bharatiya Stree Shakti, Maharashtra, is a voluntary and autonomous organization committed to empowering women, families and society at large. The organization has been instrumental in education of girl child through their unique “Fund Her Education Programme.” It makes it possible for girls facing financial constraints to continue pursuing further studies.
Rationale and Objective
A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack of girls’ education, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.
Improvement in the education and literacy skills of the girls is primarily based upon factors such as socio-economic, socio-cultural, educational levels of the parents and distance from school. At this stage, traditional gender norms push girls into helping with household chores and sibling care, leading to irregular attendance that eventually results in dropouts. Early marriage, lack of safety in schools and low aspirations related to girls’ education also lead to them dropping out.
To address the issue, Bhartiya Stree Shakti initiated a campaign ‘Fund HER Education’ in 2004. The objective of the campaign is to provide financial support to underprivileged girls for education and in other development areas.
Post initiating the campaign a sample survey was conducted to collect data related to drop out and the reason for the same. Bharatiya Stree Shakti`s work is mainly based on the important five points, i.e. Panchasutri: health, education, economic, independence, equality and self-esteem. While working with and for the women in slum areas it was realized that it is very unfortunate that some talented girls have to drop out of school due to financial inability of their parents. Given a chance, these girls do have bright future. Bharatiya Stree Shakti’s project “Fund Her Education” makes it possible for these girls to pursue further education.
Girls were selected based on their personal interview and documents showing performance of the previous year. The family’s educational and economic background was also taken into consideration. The program is sponsored by individual donors, who in turn get benefit of 80G. To cross-verify the information, proper validation is done through home visits. Female students from Std. grade 8th onwards are beneficiaries of this project. The help is in the form of cash, stationery other materials related to school and higher education. Programs conducted for the girl students include self-defense training, health-hygiene awareness, career guidance, legal awareness, gender equality work-shop, awareness about environmental issues and activities supporting their personality development in general. Education expenses for an academic year is minimum INR 1500/- for each girl. Financial help is also provided for school, college education and job oriented (vocational) courses. The progress report of each girl under the programme is made available for scrutiny at Santacruz office. A separate record is maintained for each girl.
During the intervention the organization realized that there is also need to provide other information and awareness for overall development and empowerment of girls. Thus, they started to conduct various programmes for their personality development including extracurricular activities, career guidance, sessions on health, awareness, self–defense, developing confidence and leadership in taking initiative towards social problems and so on.
Getting sufficient number of donors with increasing number of girl’s applications and amount of fees for higher education was a major challenge for the organization. Initially the team also faced challenge to reach out to solve/counsel girls for their psychological needs.
Total 1500 girls have been benefited with the initiative. The girls are now taking part in debates and discussing issues related to women empowerment among their community. The organization has been able to create an environment positive towards educating a girl child. Also, the beneficiaries are now taking care of financial responsibility of their parents after completing their education.
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