Global symbol of women’s education

Global symbol of women’s education

Ampashayya Naveen: Global Symbol of Women’s Education, This century started with bringing down the twin WTO towers in New York. From then onwards...

Many horrendous incidents are taking place all over world in the 21st century. This century started with bringing down the twin WTO towers in New York. From then onwards there seems to be no respite in the happening of such incidents. In India we had seen the terrible raid on Mumbai by the terrorists who landed from Pakistan and the mass killing of 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat as revenge for the Godhra train carnage. As if these are not enough, a good number of young women were subjected to rapes which started with seven young men brutally raping Nirbhaya in a bus in New Delhi and Delhi had the dubious distinction of being called the rape capital of the world.

More than all these crimes, a recent incident in Nigeria shocked the entire world--the mass kidnapping of more than 200 school-going children by Islamic Terrorist Organisation Boko Haram. The reason for this kidnap of innocent girls is said to be: they were being educated in schools and this Boko Haram is against girls going to school to get education. These kidnapped young girls are aged between 10 and 16 years. We know that terrorists abduct political leaders and other important persons in the society and demand ransom to release them. They may also demand the release of their fellow terrorists who were put behind bars. But kidnapping of hundreds of school-going children is unheard of. Boko Haram’s chief Abubakar Shekau has even threatened to sell the girls as slaves in the open market. What a shame! The world is waiting to see what the Nigerian Government is going to do to get the innocent kids released. Even after four weeks, the inaction of Nigerian government is shocking. As this newspaper in its editorial has said ‘the Nigerian Government’s inept handling of the situation and inability to trace the hideout of gunmen who have been holding the girls as hostages’.

The terrorist organisations like Taliban and Boko Haram are hell bent upon taking the world back to the middle ages. They are against women’s education. According to them, women should be confined to kitchens. Their dream of taking the world to the middle ages can never be successful as millions of women all over the world are now going to schools and colleges and doing all sorts of jobs equally with men. For many centuries, women were not allowed to go to schools and colleges and participate in public life. They were viewed only as sex objects. But things started changing after relentless struggle by progressive-minded men and women all over the world. Thus the feminism had become a strong movement in western countries during later half of 19th century and in the beginning of 20th century.

In India, due to the efforts of many intellectuals like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Savithri Bai Phule and many others, women’s education has taken strong foundations. From the latter half of 20th century, girls are seen in increasing numbers in all schools and colleges. They are now equally excelling and shining more than boys in getting good grades in the examinations which scenario was not there 30 or 40 years ago. The traditionalists didn’t allow girls to go to schools--women’s education was considered as detrimental to the welfare and stability of the society. When I was sent to the school during my childhood in 1940s, my elder sister was not allowed to go to school even though she was very enthusiastic to get educated. The point is: women’s education in India and in other countries could get such a boost only after so many battles waged by feminists. Regressive groups like Taliban and Boko Haram cannot put the clock back.

I am reminded of Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, who waged a relentless war against Taliban for her right to education. She was only 14 years old when she went to school in Swat Valley of Pakistan ignoring the threats of Taliban. Not only she went to school but also motivated many other girls in her area to go to school. For this bold and progressive action of Malala, Taliban attacked her from close range. Malala was almost dead but after Herculean efforts by doctors in England, her life was saved. Recently I had the pleasure of going through the book ‘I am Malala’, an autobiography of this bold girl. She dedicated this book ‘to all the girls who have faced injustice and been silenced’. I suggest that every girl must read this book to know how a girl of just 14 years could become a celebrity and could be nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 16. She says at the end of the 1st Chapter in the book “So I was born proud daughter of Pakistan, though like all Swatis (people living in Swat valley), I, though, of myself first as Swati and then Pashtun, before Pakistan”. I had decided very early I would not be like that (confining herself only to the four walls of the home). My father always said ‘Malala will be free as a bird. I dreamed of going to the top of Mount Elum like Alexander the Great to touch Jupiter and even beyond the valley. But as I watched my brothers running across the roof, flying their kites and skillfully flicking the strings back and forth to cut each other’s down. I wondered how free a daughter could ever be’. At 16, Malala had become a global symbol of Peaceful protest and youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope the Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram would learn lessons from Malala and fight for women’s right to education after their release.

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