The Nishta project helps 900 of the poorest adolescent girls and their morthers in the South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal every year to complete their education. In this rural area 50% of the local population are agricultural workers living on less than a dollar a day.
Discrimination against girls is a major problem in the area. Parents don’t place any value on educating girls, who can be married off as early as 13 years old. Only 30% of girls complete primary education and only 1.8% pass their secondary exams. Many children labour in the fields or become domestic servants. They earn a pittance and they are vulnerable to sexual harassment, exploitation and in some cases trafficking.
This project raises awareness among parents and families about the value of educating girls and it gives families the holistic support they need to complete their daughters' education. This is the key to escaping from the cycle of illiteracy, child-marriage and ill-health. For every year a girl stays in school she will earn more, be more engaged in society, and less at risk of exploitation and violence. Nishtha trains girls and mothers to unite and become leaders and change-makers in their communities, challenging traditional views and stereotyped gender roles.