As a girl born in India, Anusha* was expected to never step foot inside a classroom. But Anusha fought back against gender discrimination by insisting on getting an education. Now she wants to see other girls have the chance to realise their dreams.
In Anusha’s remote northern Indian village, girls are not allowed to step out of their house. Forget going to school – girls are expected to stay home and do chores, whether it be housework, tending crops or helping bring up siblings.
Anusha says that although boys are often prized over girls in her community, her father believed girls were just as important. He named her Anusha (not her real name) as it meant “star”. He hoped that her future could be just as bright. But when he died when she was nine, she thought her hopes died with him.
FACT: One in seven girls in the developing world will be married before the age of 15. Find out how CARE is petitioning the Australian Government to ensure the rights of all women and girls are protected.
Taken in by relatives, while Anusha’s brothers found opportunities to earn a living outside of the home, Anusha was denied these opportunities.
“I was the only girl,” she explains. “My role was to do endless household chores.” Worse still, Anusha was barely seen as human. “I was beaten often. There was no dignity in my life.”
But hope was on the horizon. CARE’s work to assist communities to lift themselves out of poverty has a special focus on women and girls .
Teachers from a local CARE-funded school came to visit Anusha’s village one day and invited her to attend classes. “When the teachers found me they gave me fresh clothes, food and a warm bed to sleep in,” recalls Anusha of the fateful day.
Better still, Anusha was able to finally step foot inside a classroom. She says having a whole world of learning opening up to her after all these years was like a dream come true.
FACT: Each year of schooling can increase a girl’s future income by 25 per cent. Help girls like Anusha have the chance to learn and thrive; sign our petition today.
For Anusha it wasn’t just about schoolbooks and lessons, it was also about her humanity and dignity. “After a while I felt human again,” she reflects. “I almost forgot about my past and all the trauma I’d been through.”
As a girl, Anusha had never been asked to think about what she wanted in life. But when her new teachers asked her to choose a purpose in life, she began to believe that she too could achieve great things.
Anusha decided that she wanted to help give other girls the chance she’d finally been given. “[I want to see] other girls like me be taken out of physical and mental trauma to soar with dreams and aspirations,” says Anusha.
“One day I will become a star like my father has named me … I want this to be true for all girls.”
Help Anusha’s wish for gender equality around the world to come true. Add your signature to our Change.org petition asking world leaders to prioritise gender equality globally.
*CARE is committed to being a child safe organisation. Names of children have been changed.