Giving marginalised girls a new Pehchaan
Giving marginalised girls a new Pehchaan....Shabana Ansari
The NGO ANHAD works towards educating and empowering underprivileged girls and young women
Farida Khan was a deserted child bride, with no access to education or a livelihood, when she met social activist Shabnam Hashmi 30 years ago. Hashmi had dropped out of a six-year cultural exchange scholarship in the erstwhile USSR in 1981 and got involved in teaching girls like Farida in a slum near her home.
Today, Farida is the managing trustee of Pehchaan, an adult literacy and vocational training programme for girls in rural areas and urban slums. "I was provided with the means to turn my life around and I am hoping that more and more women can benefit from the gift of education," she says.
Pehchaan is an initiative by Hashmi's Delhi-based non-profit organisation Act Now for Harmony and Democracy (Anhad). It works towards educating and empowering girls and young women in economically backward regions. Anhad is one of the NGOs partnering the Stayfree DNA I Can Women's Half Marathon scheduled for March 11.
"The literacy rate among women of the minority and marginalised communities in states such as Haryana and Bihar is less than 25%. Many girls in the age group of 8-15 are completely illiterate. And most get married off by the time they turn 13," says Hashmi.
The organisation, which works in remote villages and urban areas across the country, has turned its attention especially on the Mewat region in Haryana.
"Despite several government schemes that claim to empower the girl child, there are lakhs of women who have been left out and are forced to live a life of ignorance and hardship," she adds.
And to fill this gap, Pehchaan enrolls young women in its two-year adult literacy and vocational training course. In the first year, the emphasis in on learning to read and write, while the students can appear privately for their Std X exams in the second year. During the course, students are also given vocational training in sewing or basic computer knowledge.
"These projects have changed lives and equipped women with the tools to stand on their own feet," says Farhat Khan, another beneficiary who now teaches at one of the Pehchaan centres.
"Stayfree® believes in the causes that DNA iCan Marathon is supporting and thus it is pleased to be associating with the initiative. Stayfree believes that by increasing awareness about these causes and supporting them, we are enabling a positive change in the lives of women and the society at large," said Tushar Murdershwar, VP, marketing, Johnson & Johnson Ltd.
The initiative also has the support of Planning Commission member Syeda Hamid and actresses Sharmila Tagore and Saba Azad.
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