It was in a small rural village in the state of Jharkhand, India, that I first met Naisban. As we sat together on the floor of her home, I listened intently as she talked to me about the pressing issue of illiteracy in her community. In an area lacking proper sanitation and sufficient water supply, Naisban is one woman who is motivated to create far-reaching change.
As we talked, I watched her eyes light up as she discussed the opportunities for development in her area. Unlike many women and children in India, she is fully literate, having been educated all the way through secondary school. A leader in her community, she has earned the respect of both the men and women through her initiation of meetings related to community development.
Naisban believes that literacy is a powerful tool in the fight to empower girls and women around the world. Her goal is to see every woman and girl in her village become literate and for many years, Naisban has dedicated her time to educating women and young girls by building her own literacy program.
India has one of the largest illiterate populations in the world. In 2001, it was reported that only half of the female population was literate. However, literacy rates have increased within the last decade, with the female rate rising to 65.5% in 2011.
Much of the credit for this increase should go to women like Naisban. She is one of many women around the world who have the potential to improve the lives of girls and women in need. If you invest in the life of one woman like Naisban, you will be changing the lives of those around her.
Naisban’s passion brings to mind the life of Somaly Mam. Somaly, who was recently featured in Half the Sky, was born in a rural area of Cambodia and endured the horrors of being sold into sexual slavery. She has dedicated her life to loving and empowering young girls who have been abused and exploited by the sex trade. Her life and experience has made a difference in the lives of over 7,000 young girls in Cambodia and many more around the world.
“A seed is like a little girl,” Somaly believes, “It can look small and worthless, but if you treat it well then it will grow beautiful.” (The Road of Lost Innocence, The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine)
Millions of girls and women like Naisban and Somaly Mam are on the front lines, tirelessly fighting for women’s rights and dignity. Let’s get behind these girls and women and champion their visions and causes. By empowering even just one girl, we are changing the lives of many.
Do you know of organizations that seek to empower girls like Naisban? Tweet us @GirlsGlobe!
Want to learn about organizations that empower local girls and women?
Census India 2011. http://censusindia.gov.in/2011census/censusinfodashboard/index.html
Census India 2001. http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_Data_2001/India_at_glance/literates1.asp