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.