How I fought for my education
I was born in Swarghat, a small town near Solan, Himachal Pradesh. My parents loved me, I loved them too. I enjoyed going to the neighbourhood ‘school’ for my primary education and playing on its campus. The only thing that bothered me was the homework I used to get. I was completely unaware of the several discriminations that girls face in our society. But not for long.
When I grew a little older, I got to know that though all the boys of my age were going for formal schooling, I was made to stay at home. When I expressed my wish to go to secondary school, elders in the family told me that girls in our culture don’t study that much and that they should focus on learning household chores.
Somehow, my mother, who herself had never gone to school, knew the importance of education. Maybe life taught her so. She gathered some courage and spoke to my father about my education; she convinced him to talk to my grandfather, the decision-maker of the house.
It took my father several days to convince my grandfather but finally I got permission with many do’s and don’ts. I completed school without any hindrance. I desperately wanted to continue my education and go to college, but this time my parents didn’t support me. Honestly, they had no money.
My school education had already lit a fire in me—the fire to dream and aspire.
I took my mother to a girl in the village who was studying in college just to find out the fee. The nearest college was about 30 km from my village; it was a government college and the fee, my father realised, was not beyond his means. To make it easier for my parents, I gave tuition to students in the village. I worked hard, and soon became ‘a tutor of choice’ in my village, making enough money to even pay for my siblings’ education.
Soon after completing graduation, I got my first job in the development sector. Initially, my only concern was the salary I was getting. But at work, I met many girls who faced similar problems I had faced while growing up. I realized girl education was still a big taboo in our society. And so, I decided to pursue a career in the education sector. I wanted to bring about a change in society. I wanted people to know the importance of sending their daughters to school.
Education has given me a lot—confidence, independence, clarity of thought, knowledge, an ability to see things in the right perspective, strength to raise my voice against discrimination, respect my culture and values.
Education has given me a lot—confidence, independence, clarity of thought, knowledge, an ability to see things in the right perspective, strength to raise my voice against discrimination, respect my culture and values. I am a free-thinking woman now, capable of setting rules for myself. All I want to do is to keep inspiring young girls to pursue education. I am sure a day will come when everybody in my village, and in all the villages in India, will understand the importance of education. I believe in the famous African proverb, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family.”
(The writer is a Sampark's Spark. Views expressed are her personal)