‘Because I am a girl’

‘Over two-thirds of the world’s 793 million illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan). Of all the illiterate adults in the world, two-thirds are women; extremely low literacy rates are concentrated in three regions (the Arab states, South and West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa), where half of all women are illiterate.’

Kamla Bhasin, an Indian feminist, has written a poem on girl’s education. Very simple poem. Sometimes very simple and very small things can touch hearts. She encourages girls to go to schools, to live their lives with dignity and rights.

A father asks his daughter:

Study? Why should you study?
I have sons aplenty who can study.
Girl, why should you study?

The daughter tells her father:
Since you ask, here’s why I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.
Long denied this right, I must study
For my dreams to take flight, I must study
Knowledge brings new light, so I must study
For the battles I must fight, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To avoid destitution, I must study
To win independence, I must study
To fight frustration, I must study
To find inspiration, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To fight men’s violence, I must study
To end my silence, I must study
To challenge patriarchy I must study
To demolish all hierarchy, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To mould a faith I can trust, I must study
To make laws that are just, I must study
To sweep centuries of dust, I must study
To challenge what I must, I must study
Because I am a girl, I must study.

To know right from wrong, I must study.
To find a voice that is strong, I must study
To write feminist songs I must study
To make a world where girls belong, I must study.
Because I am a girl, I must study.

Study alone won’t work. Most of the educated and financially independent women practice anti-women traditions, and hardly try to break the shackles of patriarchy or fight misogyny. To walk with their head held high women need other things too: consciousness and courage. Academic curriculum does not always help women to grow consciousness.