We’re celebrating girl’s empowerment and human rights this Thursday 11th October in honour of International Day of the Girl Child
Launched in 2012 by the United Nations General Assembly, the day aims to promote girl’s empowerment and human rights whilst highlighting challenges that girls all over the world face such as inequality, child marriage, and gender-based violence.
Save the Children works to give all girls and boys an opportunity at an education, a healthy start in life, resilience in the face of disasters and the chance to go further than they dreamed possible. But in honour of International Day of the Girl Child, we wanted to take a moment to share this story of a brave girl and her mother who have shunned family and societal pressures to refuse early marriage and pursue an education.
Munni, 16, lives in a slum community on the outskirts of the city of Patna, in the state of Bihar, India. She lives with her parents. She has five brothers and two sisters.
Munni belong to one of India’s most marginalised communities known as “Musahar.” Within India’s complex caste system, this community is seen as being without any caste and, as such, they face discrimination and live in extremely bad conditions.
Munni became part of the Save the Children ‘Children’s Group’. As part of the group Munni became interested in learning and studying. She is now an active and important member of the group.
Within Munni’s community many girls and women are married at a young age, and do not attend school. Munni’s father and grandfather are strongly in favour of marriage and arranged for her to do so when she was eight. The intervention of both her mother and the Save the Children community workers prevented this. Munni’s mother was strongly in favour of education, “Because I felt I lived my life but my child can do better in their life only if they are literate. So, I fought with my family and decided that my children will study. If they will study, they will have better work.”
Two years ago, she decided to start a special literacy class for her community, so that women could at least read and sign their names. Along with her friends, also members of the group, they motivated women to attend the class. At first nobody took her seriously. She finally got her mother and two other women to attend the class, after which many other women became interested and started to attend the class. Munni now has twenty women enrolled in her class.
As a result of the class, Munni and her friends have earned respect within the community and are an important mobilising force amongst women and children. Munni’s message to other girls is clear: “If we have education then we must give it to those women or our brother-sister, who are illiterate.”
Watch Munni’s story in her own words.