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Interview with Roopashree Joshi on her work educating marginalized girls on the Nepal/India border

Updated: Oct 18, 2018

Roopashree Joshi works with World Education, a Nepal based NGO. This 25 year old NGO focuses on educating the marginalized girls (muslim and the Dalit communities) and their mothers. She has been interviewed by Tara Sheth, a Masters student at Teachers College, Columbia University.


Tell us a little about yourself and the work/projects you have undertaken?


I work with the most disadvantaged and marginalized Dalit and Muslim children in Nepal ,  in the districts near to the Indian border.We also encourage mothers to get education and develop their livelihoods. We organize non formal classes for the daughters and mothers through our partner NGOs in the districts.


The highest numbers of out of school children in Nepal are in Terai districts. Poverty, distance to school and child marriage remain the main reasons why girls drop out of schools. 

 

I also work on projects that focus on migration and migrant education Recently we have developed a mobile app that promotes financial literacy and decision making in the migration process . 


Why do you think women are not advancing, what are some of the challenges you think the women face in terms of gender disparities and finances?


Some of the challenges the women and girls face are the lack of finances and the ability to be independent, stand on your own two feet. I feel that education is the means to this end. That is why along with the young files I have also started off a program to educate their mothers as well. If the mother is educated then only will she realize the value of education and want that for her daughter. The mothers need to send their daughters to school, because they did not get the chance, or have the means to go. These girls need a second chance in life.


How do we bridge the gap between both the genders and give them an equal status?


Gender inequalities and biases pervade cultures worldwide, preventing women and girls from fully realizing their rights to reproductive health and equality. For example, discrimination against women and girls often begins at conception, especially in parts of India and South Asia. In parts of India, near my home town and South Asia, till today there is a strong preference for having sons. Girls are by some families perceived as a financial burden for the family due to them not being earning members and societal pressures such as unaffordable dowry demands. In my program itself, 23,000 girls have come to our program. 2,000 of them are engaged in self employment


Why did you think of this topic, of educating girls? and how should we as women try and transform this awareness into action? What can we do?


I think the first step is to educate all women, once they are educated the world is their

platform to start off anything, be it a job or an enterprise. Education has always been crucial to me, both for the young girls and their mothers who never got the chance to go to school. I choose this profession to see a positive difference in the lives of these marginalized girls. Once they are educated, they can be financially independent and be equal to men.


My mission and vision is to educate all the minority girls and their mothers through my

informal education program. We teach the mothers and the girls at a later stage skills for self employment and entrepreneurship so that they can go forth and start their own business ventures. We also work with the school system to bring about change in their approach. Mothers express their hopes and dreams through the form of mithila art. I think it is essential to encourage the mothers to encourage the daughters to study and to keep at it. One of the major reasons girls drop out of school is child marriage. I honestly wish there was someway I could delay the child marriage by a couple of years or eradicate it completely.


I think the girls are fascinated of learning new things- and that is great! Even when basic

utilities are provided to them such as support stationary and uniforms there is a higher chance that they will enroll in the continue their education.

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