“Because you are women, people will force their thinking on you, their boundaries on you. They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go. Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom.” – Amitabh Bachchan
There is nothing more attractive and inspiring than a strong, independent woman who does not conform to the beliefs and standards that society has set for her. The time where woman are “supposed” to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen are long gone. The truth of the matter unfortunately, is that many young girls never get what they deserve – a chance to be a CEO of a company or even just realising her own dreams of following a career that she has a passion for. Gender bias, cultural malpractices, arranged child marriages, human trafficking and medical issues are many of the problems that continue to be an obstacle to girls all over the world. The biggest obstacle in becoming the strong individuals they dream of, remains the lack of education.
8 to 10 million girls in India, between ages 6 and 17, have never set foot in a classroom and are the victims of sexual abuse and child marriages. The whole world is up in arms about violence against women and children, but what can we as educators truly do to make a difference?
International Women’s Day takes place tomorrow (8 March) and people all around the world have made their voices heard. If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past two years you will know that the #MeToo campaign has been trending worldwide. This call to action was started by famous actress, Alyssa Milano in 2017.
The hashtag started trending worldwide after a call to action from actress Alyssa Milano. This campaign was fuelled after allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein – and he fell from his throne – HARD! The hashtag is in support of all women who have been sexually harassed or abused by someone and to encourage them to come forward and share their story with the world. So far, over half a million women all over the world have taken part in the #MeToo campaign, indicating how rife abuse and violence against women and children is in this day and age of ‘equality’.
To solve and aid these problems, we have to identify them first. If girls don’t know their rights, they can never close the gap and achieve their dreams. If you don’t have a solid education the knowledge to what you are entitled to completely passes you by. So how do we as educators empower our girls?
Globally, 246 million boys and girls are exposed to and victims of school-related violence – annually. Start programmes at school where education is provided about HIV, health, leadership and how they can report abuse. Create a safe haven where they feel comfortable to share their experiences and ask questions.
Create a case management programme where members of the community can report GBV cases to the appropriate services, whether it be healthcare, police protection or psychologists.
Create a ‘catch-up’ programme for young women who dropped out of school due to pregnancy or child marriages. Unique learning experiences can encourage them to take back their lives and give themselves the education they deserve.
We have a shining example in the #MeToo campaign. It is of the utmost importance to create public forums and platforms for women and girls to tell their story and see support from the community. Silence will never make the problem go away!
Strong independent women – may we be them and may we raise them!
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