In many parts of rural India, a girl venturing outside her house alone is not considered respectable or proper behaviour. So deep-rooted is the patriarchy, or threat to their ‘virtue’, that girls are expected to be accompanied by a male member of their family when going out. Despite cultural barriers like this, Sanju Gurjar has been committed to the cause of girls’ education and empowerment. Working as an Educate Girls’ community volunteer (called Team Balika) since two years, Sanju is one of the most known people in her village.
Sanju has enrolled 11 girls from her village in school
The daughter of an influential community member, Sanju, is the most educated person in her family and is currently pursuing a political science degree. She shares that it was her father who made her realize the importance of girls’ education and has always motivated her to study.
Sanju has enrolled 11 girls from her village in school and true to her belief, she even coaxed her brother, who was not interested in studying, to appear for Class 12 exams and graduate from school. In addition to volunteering as Team Balika, Sanju does whatever she can to contribute to the cause, for example, she takes tuition, free of charge, for her neighbors’ children.
Sanju believes that most fundamental way to empower women is through education, “Had I not become a Team Balika, I would probably have already been asked to get married. Volunteering within my village made it easier to convince my family to give me the time I needed. I also learnt much through the training that Educate Girls provides. Now I want to complete my graduation and motivate other girls in my village to aspire to achieve higher education.”
Thousands of Team Balika like Sanju have been working in their villages to get girls into schools and to help children learn better.