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Each one teach one

Like breathing, we often tend to take certain privileges in life for granted. I was born in a lower middle class family and at a time when owning even a small black & white TV was a big privilege. Of course we weren't worth such a luxury. My father had a flagellating business so my mother chose to take up a job. She wouldn't let our education suffer at any cost.
We, me and my sister, were sent to the best school (which was also very expensive) at my place. My parents' entire existence revolved around our studies. Mom would go to work during the day, return late and do household and then sit with us to help with studies. Exam times meant sleepless nights for her too... After all, educating her daughters was a mission for her.

My mother had in fact waged a war with world to get us what we simply took for granted then.
Her own mother was her inspiration!

I remember my grandmother as a jovial old woman, in her late 60s, who would spread cheer where ever she went. I was too young to salute her strength then, when she was alive. Grandmother gave birth to seven sons, but none survived. Everyone thought of her as cursed. The bigger curse came upon when the eighth child survived, but 'what a disgust', she turned out to be a daughter. My mother. Her daughter became the essence of her existence. She chose to bring her daughter up, no less like a son. That was 62-year back. A single woman, who has no idea of how to make her ends meet, sends her daughter to school and then to college. Mom's eyes would always fill with tears when she recalls how her mother faced the condemnation of the community. No one helped her, but the poor woman was barraged with taunts on things like what would she get by wasting her hard earned money on a daughter as she is going to leave her sooner or later. My gutsy grandmother had answers for everything. 'I can't give my daughter anything; let me give her what she will never lose!' What a brave woman she must have been. My eyes would however fill with tears of pride.

My mother is not brave types. She is not the one who has answers for everything. But she has been brought up by a courageous woman. That’s probably why she put her foot down when has to face the same questions so many years down the line. Like her mother she never encouraged us to learn cooking because it's customary for girls to prepare meals to impress her husband. Mother was criticized for worrying unnecessarily for our grades and not teaching us girly things like doing the household, washing, stitching and knitting.

Education is as essential as breathing, mother announced. I can't take it for granted for my daughters. Period.

Since I started doing journalism, seven years back, I met so many women who are 'craving' for education. They are old women, who have grown wise enough to understand the importance of it; young women, who hope to find solutions for their problems in it; and little girls, who attach their dreams to it. So, how do we keep the hopes high. I made an attempt with 32-year-old Nasreen.

Nasreen, who works as a housemaid lives in the nearby slum cluster. When she told me that she always wanted to study but couldn't because of her poverty, I made her understand, better be late than never. Today, I teach 17 underprivileged women. All these women have at least two daughters and make sure that they go to school. Talking of girls education, it has to begin with the involvement of mothers.

Also, waiting for government policies and legislation to change is not a great idea. Those who are privileged should take the responsibility of those who aren't as lucky. If each one on us takes it as a personal responsibility to at least teach one girl/woman around us a lot of things are going to change.

More over, where ever possible, a system of functional education, which should be attached with a vocation should be created to attract those women who have to create a living too.

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 »


Aysha Ibrahim's picture

wonderful idea

I liked your idea fozia to atleast teach one

your doing wonderful job

keep up the good work and salute to your mother

fozia yasin's picture


My dear Aysha,

thanks so much for the encouragement


Sutanuka Banerjee's picture

yes yes

hope we will see an end to these gendered ways of upbringing......;

I live in my convoluted mind....

fozia yasin's picture

Yes true, There has to be an

Yes true,
There has to be an end of gender bias.
It just can not continue

thanks for the comment

libudsuroy's picture

fozia, thank you for another

fozia, thank you for another positive, uplifting and inspirational post. I like the practical ideas you have pushed forward: teaching at least one person; not to wait for big sweeping reforms before doing something. In the long run, these are the gestures that would matter in the grassroots.

libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

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

fozia yasin's picture


Hi libudsuroy,

Thank you for the word of appreciation..


jampa's picture


Thanks for sharing your mom's story, which is empowering and heart-touching, and your suggestions for solutions are great. Keep sharing,

fozia yasin's picture


Dear Jampa,

Thanks for you comment dear, I am glad you liked my attempt


Beverly Rose's picture

each one teach one

Dear Fozia,

Thank you for this inspiration and moving writing! Your idea of each one teach one is so simple yet profound, and truly transformational. I really like the way you are doing grass roots work to change the world. I believe it is the only way things will change. And just a word about your Mother and Grandmother - how courageous of them! And again, an inspiration to do what we know is right and what we need to do, no matter what others say.

I look forward to reading more from you.

In peace,

fozia yasin's picture


Dear Beverly

Thanks for you comment. Yes, knowing what is right, and then doing ahead to do it, no matter what
others say needs some guts..

May we all have the courage to do what right, no matter what


Dana W's picture

Hi Thank you for a

Thank you for a fascinating text! I think your idea of every woman or girl teaching at least one person is the basic for any change. We don’t always need to sit down and wait for great government actions which might never happen.
Keep on writing and sharing your voice!

fozia yasin's picture


Hey Dana,

Thanks for the comment. Will keep sharing


kirantara's picture

Fozia, Good for you. You see


Good for you. You see things as they truly are, and I admire the 'change things from the inside-out' concept. I look forward to hearing more about your students!


fozia yasin's picture


Thanks for the interest and encouragement. Each of my student has an inspiring and touch story.
Will love to bring them on to you dear Kirantara.


loretta's picture

Good story.

This is a very good and encouraging story Fozia, many of us have had to make without certain luxuries, so that there could be enough money for education.

What you have stated it's true, to educate a girl, involve the mother. If you can't get through the mother, chances are that, you might have difficulty dealing with the girl, as the mother is of greater influence.

Keep fighting for the underdog Fozia, and one day you'll get to pat yourself on the back and say; "Fozia old fox, you have made it happen.":D


A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

fozia yasin's picture

Real Change

Dear Loretta,

Thanks for your support.

There is a very famous saying: Educate a mother and you educate the entire family.
So, yes, that is how I see some real change coming in, gradually


antonia.h.'s picture

Very inspiring! I still

Very inspiring! I still think, however, that policies can change, but it is a long process indeed. First, people's perceptions about education and especially access to education for girls should suffer a transformation. I believe there are people who are aware of this already, but of course, not enough. Not at all. But structural change comes from the people, from within the country - only then can policies change.
Hats down to your mother and your grandmother for being so strong on their positions!

ola.mahadi's picture

be the change

I felt so good to read your story so inspiring and strong, thank you for sharing i osmetime do feel like we might not be lucky to see a change that we wish for happning infront of us but i love the fact that we arre trying our best working for women empowerment. Starting with myself i think is a good step.
You must be so proud to have such a mother and grandmother.
Stay breave

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