This time I am sitting having a breakfast with my cousin who is telling me about his younger sister who got married two years before and her husband has sent her back to her parents’ home because now he thinks she is fat and he cannot live with her anymore.
Yesterday a student of mine Nooricame to me crying and said Sister Zeph please do something, my parents are forcing me to get married with my 32 years old cousin I have always been thinking of him as my elder brother because I am just 14 years old and I am a student of 8th standard I want to get education I do not want to get married yet.
One of my 13 years old students, who is very good in studies her brother has stopped her coming to school because he thinks that she is a grown up girl and she must get married now so she is engaged with her cousin and will get married soon if I will not use my full power to stop her which I will use of course.
Yesterday in my office one of my colleagues called me on phone and said that I respect you a lot because although you are doing a lot of work and you are getting famous but still your dressings is very decent and according to our culture if you will not wear this much big shawl all the time, people will automatically think that you are not a good women, he was trying to tell me that my dressing determines my character.
One of my students cannot participate in our annual show this year because a boy in her neighborhood has proposed her so as a punishment she cannot go out of home so until she gets married to any other man she will have to live at her home like a prisoner.
One of my colleagues who was a topper in high school so a local newspaper published this news with her picture , when her father came to know this he said your picture in a newspaper is an insult for the family so you cannot go to school again, but then her teachers came and convinced him by making this promise that it will never happen again, so this brilliant student started getting less marks during her exams deliberately so that she cannot top again since then she always say no to all the opportunities so that no one can see her face again.
It feels like it will take forever to change this mind set.Zeph Education has saved hundreds of girls from child marriage, honor killing, abuse, and violence and has made them educated and empowered but even this is not enough I feel like we have to change mind sets on a vast level. How can we see even a single girl to suffer like this?
We have to save them all, we have to give a right to live to all of them, and we have to make them all happy. We have to give freedom of speech to all of them, we have to do this.
This suffering of women has spread in our society like a generational course.
We can bring equality by making more and more female leaders. We have a big advantage that job of women in developing countries is to do the household and to produce and take care of their children, this is where we can make a change, if women will be aware of their rights then they will teach their sons to respect women, they will be able to claim equality for their daughters and women will take a stand for each other whenever they will see such violence and injustice in their surroundings.
I have 206 students this time who are learning skills and getting education but we not only give them formal education and skills training but we give them awareness, to know their rights and to speak for their and other women’ rights, unmarried students will get married one day, they will go to different cities and villages where they will do the same job at any level what I am doing.
So our basic job should be to make new leaders and to spread them all over the world. There are thousands of NGO’s which are working for women but we have to do something more which is what the meaning of Empowering Women is? Empowerment is not only to make women educated and skilled but it means for me is that an empowered woman is a woman who has a potential to change not only her own life but the lives of women in her surroundings. I believe all women have this potential but we have to make them feel that they have it and they can use it for their fellow women.
As leaders it is our job to make more leaders who can make more leaders this is an only way to save our sisters around the world.