In the backward districts of the country, particularly in North India, parents have reservations about sending their daughters to school because of factors like lack of toilets and transportation.
“Parents generally consider the girl child a liability and boys as resources. Since they are seen as a burden why invest in them? To change the mindset of parents and reduce the widening gap between boys and girls in schools, we are building a cadre of village-based youth leaders called ‘Team Ballika’ to work as champions for girls education,” said Safeena Husain, who in 2005 founded Educate Girls, a comprehensive school reform model which leverages existing resources at the government, village and school levels.
An alumnus of the London School of Economics, this Delhiite chose the desert State of Rajasthan to specialise in her chosen field of social entrepreneurship; the reason being it was home to some of the most impov-erished districts in the country.
Speaking to The Hindu , Safeena said diminishing the disparity in girl child education, which exists on a significant scale in large parts of the country, was her goal.
“My organisation is working in 5,000 schools in Rajasthan but we want to increase it to 30,000. What I am propagating is that girls offer magical solutions that can help in reducing poverty and give birth to healthy children when they get married. They can be the driver of growth.”
To help Safeena achieve her Herculean task, The Womanity Foundation founder Yann Borgstedt is providing her the services of her talented professionals, working in the field of human relations, financial consultation and public relations.
“A social entrepreneur is someone who offers innovative solutions to social problems. Eight years ago, I formed the Foundation to focus on women’s education and make them self-reliant in India, Afghanistan, Brazil, Israel and Morocco and the West Bank.”
Since 2007, the Foundation has supported Afghanistan’s largest girls’ school, The Al Fatah School in Kabul, which has 5,000 girls, to become a model of excellence in education. To work for women’s progress, it has also set up radio exclusively for women in the Middle-East.
“In India, we have a big team which after research and analysis has discovered a couple of social entrepreneurs like Safeena. She has constructed toilets in schools in order to bolster confidence among parents who were not sending their daughters to schools. Parents are also reluctant to send their teenaged daughters to schools because they have to trudge long distances,” said this Swiss entrepreneur, who is working towards education of girl child in the country. Pointing out that a multitude of problems are plaguing the country, Mr. Borgstedt said providing education to girls to enable them to come at par with boys needs to be fast tracked. “Female foeticide is another area we want to work on.”