Nandini's mother helps fortify her daughter's future

Nandini's mother helps fortify her daughter's future

9-year-old Nandini was born into a family of Musahars in Bihar. The Musahar community belongs to the Hindu scheduled caste which now falls under the term 'Mahadalit’ or the most marginalised of the lot. Around 2.2 million Musahars reside in Bihar- one of the most backward states of India with a literacy rate of 63%. The Musahar community’s literacy rate is abysmally low, 10% on an average and the situation is particularly grim for women of the comunity. 

READ HOW THE MUSAHAR COMMUNITY IS DENIED THEIR RIGHT TO EDUCATION IN BIHAR

Nandini’s parents never believed in sending their daughters to school. “What will they do after studying? Girls have to get married by 18, what will they achieve by going to school? It is just a waste of money. They have no future,” said her mother. Other women in the village shared the same belief. 

There is only one school in the vicinity of the village which has no infrastructure- no toilets, tables, chairs or blackboards. When children from the community go to this school, they are often discriminated against by the upper caste students and even the teacher.

Oxfam India along with partner organisation DVAS is not only working towards ending caste based discrimination in schools in Bihar but also creating awareness about the indispensable value of education among the Musahar community. We counselled the women of Nandini’s village to make them understand the indispensable value of education in a woman’s life. Initially our efforts were met with scepticism and even resistance from the community. However after regular follow up sessions, Nandini’s mother was encouraged to become an advocate for girl child education in the village. Today, Nandini’s mother counsels other women in the village to encourage them to send their girls to school. Nandini is now studying in 2nd standard, but challenges remain.

Due to lack of toilets and other infrastructural facilities, many girls continue to drop out of school as soon as they start menstruating. Lack of money means they cannot afford to buy sanitary napkins. More often than not, they end up using unsanitary cloth, ash or husk sand. 

READ HOW YOU CAN HELP MEENA BREAK THE CYCLE OF POVERTY THROUGH A GIFT OF EDUCATION

These roadblocks have kept many girls away from classrooms and a holistic learning environment that will help them fortify their future. 

Let us help them realise their dreams today. 

Text By - Sanya Sodhi, Consultant, New Delhi


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