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Empower a Girl – Watch her change the World!

Ten year old Rani starts her day early at five in the morning, to finish all the household chores, take care of her two year old brother when her mother makes it to the brick factory all for a meager income, to earn a livelihood.

Thirteen year old Nanthini stopped her schooling because of her every day battle with the abuse and threats on the way to school by drunkards consequently paving way for a forced child marriage.

The curse of being born into a family of six, sixteen year old Soma (name changed) was subjected to bonded labour taking her to the extremes of exploitation and finally into the hands of sex trade.

Seventeen year old Selvi was raped on the way to work at a seafood processing unit which earned her daily bread.
Another teenager was struggling to find a way for an abortion due to rape or she would commit suicide rather than bringing shame to her family.

I have come across a bundle of such stories in my life since 2003 when I started my work at both the coastal belts and the interior villages of Tamilnadu. In spite of all these difficulties and pain they have come across, I sensed a thirst in them – primary education.

If this was the case of the girls, I saw every woman with a scar, a burnt mark, something or the other telling her tale - horrible life of violence. Why do they have to remain silent victims? - lack of education which meant lack of awareness., lack of courage to question, to fight back, to stand on their own.

On top of all, the most recent rise of rape culture has ruthlessly clutched the girls and women taking the step towards empowerment and thus restricting them from becoming the light of their family and hence the society.

I come from the southern tip of India lying in the peninsular Deccan Plateau and is bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, the Indian Ocean in the south and the Bay of Bengal in the east. The geography of the region is diverse, encompassing two mountain ranges, the Western and Eastern Ghats, and a plateau heartland.

While we have improved in some socio-economic metrices, economic disparity, illiteracy and poverty continue to affect the region much like the rest of the country. Agriculture is the single largest contributor to the regional net domestic product, while Information technology is a rapidly growing industry in Tamilnadu.

But we can never boast of the ancient tradition and culture and rich heritage unless we find a solid solution to empower and educate our womenfolk. Educating a girl doesn't just change the life of the girl – it impacts her family and those around her.

Education is crucial for the empowerment and emancipation of girls and women, and the realization of all other human rights. Educating a girl has a transformational effect that changes communities and societies.

Good quality education helps unlock the potential of girls and women everywhere. And I see that apart from being a system restricted with time and age in a school, it can be a nonformal one, a meeting of likeminded women under the trees, a gathering of teenagers, adolescents and children with a flexible curriculum independent to choose of their own interest, providing the knowledge and information they need to know the world, to come up, to raise, to survive, to succeed. Here they discuss their problems, experiences, find a solution. They become their own decision makers and solution finders. They meet in a discussion forum in a neighbourhood network as I call it - in each street, in each village, in each panchayat which is networked so that every voice is heard in that group.

Every day I approach these young girls and women to see that change, a glow in their eyes, their growth as confident, energetic, sustainable and dignified women – fully charged and empowered to face the challenges the daily life brings. Now each girl is after success.

I focus on educationally backward areas, girls from the disadvantaged sections like those belonging to tribes, minorities, etc.
I focus on tackling gender-specific issues that prevent girls and women from having access to education.

I focus on providing women and adolescent girls with the necessary support structure, and an informal learning environment to create opportunities for education;

I focus on helping girls to overcome socio-cultural and economic factors inhibiting their access to elementary education.

“Thoughts are not to be given, but to be awakened”. Seeds for independent thinking lie within every individual. I envision a climate for those seeds to sprout – Seeds of Empowerment.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
Learn more »

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Comments

Sutanuka Banerjee's picture

great work :) All the best

great work :) All the best

I live in my convoluted mind....

Sharontina's picture

Wish you

Wish you the best dear. Lets keep sharing.

Merlin Sharontina

pelamutunzi's picture

wonderful job

you are doing a wonderful job and now all the women and girls strive for success despite impediments. when they are empowered they will speak out against the rape culture and perpetrators many of whom are known to them will be brought to book

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Sharontina's picture

Empowerment

Long way to go but i hope there is sustainability and a permanent change in the lives of women. Only then we can say that bringing to the books served the purpose.

Merlin Sharontina

libudsuroy's picture

Such depth and wisdom in

Such depth and wisdom in looking at problems and solutions. All these could only sprout from experiences, from a well-examined life indeed!

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Sharontina's picture

Depth

Thanks for looking into that depth. Its the practical solution oriented approach that will yield fruit rather than making mere policies in the papers. Thats my thought. It has worked out well in my life and i wish my friends too to try simple practices that will make tremendous changes.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Aminah's picture

that's wonderful work Sharontina

Keep up your work. You have written this beautifully.

It saddens my heart to hear about atrocities committed against women.
My own life experiences looks insignificant when I hear about them.

I guess we need to be thankful for our blessings at the same time continue to work hard to ensure nobody suffers.

Inclusive education to both men and women and sensitizing men to our cause will work wonders, I believe.

All the best.
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

Sharontina's picture

Dear

i feel appreciated that you stopped to read that. yes we need to be thankful, we have not tasted the bitterness of crime, brutality and violence in the deep. But as a witness to these i am determined to do my work much more intensively. Your words are an encouragement dear.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Sangita Thapa's picture

Bravo!

Your post is an encouraging write-up for all the womenfolks. It not only shows problems, but also solutions. Thanks a bunch dear sister.

Sharontina's picture

Encouragement

Encouragement here is mutual. we are there for each other patting our shoulders, appreciating one another, advising and suggesting, guiding and leading all the way through.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Iryna's picture

Discussing problems

This is the great post (as always) and the great work you do, Sharontina! I think it's very important for a woman to be heard, to discuss. In discussion so many problems meet with solutions!

Thanks for sharing the story,

A hug,
Iryna.

Sharontina's picture

Thanks

Thanks, you stopped to leave that comment. Yes discussions among the affected can bring out solutions and strategies to avoid further problems and victimizations.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Debra K Adams MA's picture

great writing!

you describe the geographical area - I would love to see it! It sounds beautiful to me. yes, so many experience so violence in girls lives - it is not right, not ok, they should be free to tell of their lives, shout it to the roof tops! Education improves one's confidence, but speaking up to the community does not require a formal education - I would agree that it gives a person credibility but so does experience - in a world of women , run by women, this would be so! thanks you for this education from you!

"Be the change you want in the world." Gandhi

Debra K. Adams, MA
See my vizify bio! https://www.vizify.com/debra-k-adams-ma-pdv-cws
Survivors In Service: Self Empowerment Strategies (SiSSeS)
Consultant/Speaker/Author & Owner/Founder

Sharontina's picture

Appreciated

Im honored with your appreciation and a wonderful feedback. Yes violence is at its peak and in different forms all targeting women and now especially young girl children. You might have known about the four and five year olds raped in the north - Delhi, both are in the ICU in a very critical condition. How would any parent let out their child even to play? what a crazy world we are living in?

In love and peace

Merlin Sharontina

Klaudia Mexico's picture

striking!!

how striking was to read "Good quality education helps unlock the potential of girls and women everywhere"!!!

My Dad used to go every morning to school with an empty stomach, no shoes, very cold, an even very sick. He was the poorest of the poor, but there was a wise teacher who gave him "heart" by Edmondo De Amicis. And he realized, he had the power to change his destiny. He became one of the first computer engineers in Mexico and has children who have graduated degrees from the top universities of the world.

I'm sure, you'll find at least one child who will make philosophy into a better life.
We´re with you to change their destinies.
Klaudia

Klaudia González

Sharontina's picture

Wonderful Dad

I am glad for you that you got a wonderful Dad who realised the value of education and provided you with the best. Iwish evry girl is blessed with a Dad who celebrates the birth of a girl child, educates her and loves her.. I am moved with your positively striking and encouraging words. Thanks for being there for me.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Taha Mirani's picture

Blessings

God help you achieve all that you desire. Awesome post. Love it.

More power to you. (y)

Love

Taha Mirani

Sharontina's picture

God help all

I wish God fulfills the desires of every woman around the globe, disadvantaged and deprived of her basic rights. I wish all their dreams come true.

In solidarity and love

Merlin Sharontina

Precious M's picture

You are a great writer

Dear Sharontina, you have blended together such wonderful ideas in great writing. Education is indeed the stepping stone to female emancipation and empowerment.

Some portions of your text could serve as great quotes. For example, "Educating a girl has a transformational effect that changes communities and societies."

Great work dear!

Love
Precious

My pen speaks

Sharontina's picture

Dear Precious

I am moved with your comments dear. Really, it triggers a positive attitude and energy in me when i hear from each dear friend and sister of WP.

In solidarity

Merlin Sharontina

sallysmithr's picture

Very Inspirational

Sharontina,

It is always horrible to hear what women have to go through. You have such a positive vision and are doing very amazing things. You are a true inspiration and there needs to be more people like you in the world. I love how you ended your story with, “Thoughts are not to be given, but to be awakened”. Seeds for independent thinking lie within every individual. I envision a climate for those seeds to sprout – Seeds of Empowerment." Thanks again for sharing and I wish you well in all that you do!

Sally

Sharontina's picture

Positive vision

Dear Sally,

Thank you very much for reading my journal. Yes, that positive vision i believe is derived from a long journey of hardships and struggled experiences which i dont think is possible for many. I just drive myself to making that possible, making it happen in those lives who otherwise would have remained unnoticed, in a corner or just a mere victim of abuse, violence and defeat in life. And people like you and other sisters of WP i hope i reach my destination.

Regards

Merlin Sharontina

Flavia Nyadoi's picture

wow

Hi Sharontina,
I am so delighted with the work you are doing as your passion to see the girls excel amidist all those painful stuations sorrounding them, You will need to involve the whole community to achiev a much more greta positive results.
Do it as often as you can.

Love,
Flavia

Sharontina's picture

Encouraging

Dear Flavia,
I am much privileged to receive a comment with encouragement. When i get a response from a dear one from WP it really means a lot to me. I will try to do my best.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

Greengirl's picture

The seed will sprout

Your work and words speak volumes and they represent the conducive climate that will cause the seeds to sprout. India is blessed to have you Sharontina!

Love,
Greengirl

Sharontina's picture

All my prayers and blessings

All my prayers and blessings in return with the same intensity of love and care for all your goodwork and will dear Olanike. You are doing a great job. All am doing is just a drop dear. Actually i see the expansion of projecting my activities in a wider arena. Hope it all works well and yields fruit.

Love

Merlin Sharontina

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