School, interrupted

The coronavirus pandemic presents a very real risk of girls dropping out of school in large numbers, setting back years of progress. If we are to stop the slide, we need to act now.

Creative Commons/United Nations Photo

Her family has always “believed in education,” Vidhi Kumari, 18, tells me on the phone from her home in Mangolpuri, Delhi. So even though her mother never went to school and her father, a driver, studied only up to the 10th grade, four of her five sisters are graduates, one is in the 12th grade and the youngest, a brother, is in the eighth.

Even in these extraordinary times, Vidhi tries to keep up with her online BA classes. It’s not easy. “My sister and I share a phone so when she attends her class, I miss mine, and sometimes it’s the other way around.”

With only half attendance, Vidhi is one of the lucky ones. Many girls in her neighbourhood have dropped out — someone doesn’t have a phone, another has no money for recharge and someone else had to take up paid work. “This is a slum area,” says Vidhi. “There’s a lot of financial hardship here.”

Women achievers open paths to achieve what was perceived as impossible

Among the dozen women extraordinary women awarded for transforming India is an amputee mountaineer, an acid attack survivor, an educator and India’s first blade runner.

Before she left her village to catch a flight to Delhi, Sunita Kamble’s grandmother had some advice for her: Don’t talk to strangers, follow instructions and, above all, don’t wave your hand out of the window.

Nobody in Kamble’s family had ever seen the inside of an airplane. But Kamble was flying, to Delhi to be recognised as one of 12 ‘women transforming India’, an award given jointly by Niti Aayog, MyGov and the United Nations.

As India’s first woman goat doctor in drought-prone Mhasvad, Maharashtra, Kamble artificially inseminates goats to create a hybrid breed that can be an alternative source of livelihood. Continue reading “Women achievers open paths to achieve what was perceived as impossible”