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.

Naisban
Naisban outside of her home

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 Girl
Empower One Girl: Change Many

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.

Somaly_Mam_Michael_Angelo_5
Photo Courtesy of somaly.org

“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?

Learn more about the Somaly Mam Foundation
On Twitter @SomalyMam

Check out the Girl Effect
On Twitter @girleffect

Sources:

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

The Girl Effect. http://www.girleffect.org/
The Somaly Mam Foundation.  www.somaly.org
Somaly Mam. The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine

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The content on Girls’ Globe is created by our members – activists, advocates and experts on gender equality, human rights and social justice from around the world.