Saleema (name changed) is about to reach her eighteenth birthday and cannot wait to begin her journey into life. But she is also sad to leave her school behind. After all, it was this school that gave her a new lease of life when she joined back four years ago. Saleema was married off when she was just twelve.
After going through the perils of extreme domestic violence, she came back home in a year’s time. It was a school teacher that got in touch with her family living in one of the remote villages of Jharkhand, India – called Modidih, an intervention area of Child Rights and You (CRY).
That was the turning point for Saleema. She went on to not only start on life afresh, but started taking part in singing competitions, winning accolades and using her talent to spread awareness about the importance of education and the perils of child marriage.
But not all girls are as lucky and courageous like her. In India, girls are still seen to be burdens to the family, to be married off soon, often in exchange of dowry. As the world gears up to celebrate the International Day of the Girl, 1 out of every 5 girls enrolled in school drops out after Class 8, 12.5 million girls between 5-18 years are child labourers and 1 out of every 3 child brides in the world is an Indian. Globally, 130 million girls are out of school and 15 million girls of primary school age do not even enter a classroom. This largely comes from the social mindset that investing in girls’ education is not worthy enough.
Puja Marwaha, CEO at CRY says, “When a girl goes to school, she stays away from early marriage, grows up as an empowered citizen who can secure her own future and take care of her family. It’s the responsibility of every individual and the civil society to be responsible and ensure accountability to implement and invest in schemes and legislations for girls’ education.”
CRY, a leading Indian non-profit, believes in creating access to education for girls to grow up educated and capable of influencing their communities. Along with many grassroots level partner organizations, CRY works for ensuring lasting change for children.