International Women's Day
At 21, Priya is already a trailblazer; following her work with Karuna projects, she became the first woman from this village to complete her secondary schooling and carry on into higher education. She is currently studying for the second year of a bachelor of commerce degree.
However, women like her still face many obstacles on the road to an education. As she explains:
"Since I was little I have always enjoyed studying and learning, and my father has always been very supportive of me in my education. But we are a poor family and he gets lots of pressure from other relatives to force me into an early marriage. It is hard to find money for tuition fees. Most of my friends, like most girls from my community have already got married before the age of 18. There is a local saying “A young girl is like a glass pot; if she is cracked she is no use to anyone”.
It is shocking and yet sadly not surprising that her community think this way.
Priya and her village are from de-notified and tribal communities, which are among the poorest and most discriminated communities in India.
Arbitrarily branded as “criminal” during British Colonial rule, they still suffer the stigma of these false labels, commonly being prevented from succeeding in education or wider society in general. Ignored by police and the job market, violent atrocities committed against them are not uncommon.
Denied education and access to their rights, they cannot work to transform the archaic views placed on them. Soon, that discrimination becomes normal and internalised; eventually being perpetuated against each other.
But, just like discrimination is cyclical, so too is dignity. That’s why Karuna are one of the few NGO’s that continues to work with these communities to challenge caste and gender-based discrimination.
Priya hopes to become a policewoman and change her community by example.
"I want to have the dignity and respect that comes from doing something to serve the society. I wanted to be an inspiration to other girls from my community; to show them that a different way of life could be possible for them too."
Now, Priya’s dream is finally within reach.
None of this great work would have been possible without the generosity of our supporters. But there is still so much more to do.
We want to expand our work to support more girls like Priya to overcome these barriers and complete their education, so that they can become change-makers for the next generation. We need your help to do this.
We want to give 600 young women like Priya the chance to break free of these stigmas and create the future they deserve.
We will work across 10 settlements to provide educational support, extra-curricular resources and raise awareness about their rights. And we will be working with the parents, wider community and village leaders too - so that we can stamp out discrimination once and for all.
Please help celebrate International Women’s Day by making a donation below and giving young women like Priya the chance to break down these barriers, earning the right to an equal future.