Concerns for their daughters’ safety are forcing parents to discourage them from pursuing higher education, say members of a social welfare organisation. This fear must be removed through awareness programmes and new policies initiated to promote women’s safety.
Education is a fundamental right. To make sure that every child in this country is able to get free and compulsory education, the government of India constituted the Right to Education Act. But still, 100 per cent literacy has not been achieved, and especially among girls, the literacy rate is even lower.
There are a lot of social constraints that hold women from pursuing education. Particularly among the marginalised and the minority communities, girls are denied education and married at a young age.
According to the 2011 census, the rate of illiteracy among the Muslims in India is 42.72 per cent. If this figure is broken down into male and female segments, the illiteracy rate among women is higher (48.1) than men (37.59).
There are activists and organisations constantly working to achieve 100 per cent literacy rate. The Covai Post spoke to some of the office-bearers of the Coimbatore chapter of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH), an organisation working for the welfare of the Islamic community.
Zaheena Ahamed.N, President of JIH said,” In this modern world, education becomes mandatory for everyone. Girls must be educated compulsorily so that they stand on their own feet.”
Zaheena said many girls, especially in the rural areas, are denied higher education as parents are anxious about the safety of their daughters.
“The government must initiate awareness programmes to eradicate this fear among the parents so that the girls are given education. May be girls can be taught self-defence so that they become bold enough to face any kind of difficulty”.
Khadeeja Khaja, the State President of the women’s wing of JIH told The Covai Post, “Education must be equal to all irrespective of gender. If a man is educated, he alone benefits, if a woman is educated, it benefits the entire family and in turn the society.”
She said development of a country is dependent on the educational growth of women. So if issues of safety acts as a hurdle for girls’ education, then that must be removed. New policies must be formulated to ensure protection of women. Only then, parents will have no hesitation in allowing their daughters to pursue higher education.”
A. Juwauriya, State President of the Girls Islamic Organization, Coimbatore, told The Covai Post, “Our organisation is the girls’ wing of the JIH which includes members between 15 and 28 years.
“Education is essential for girls and it is the only tool to build self-confidence in them. Islam says that girls ought to be educated, and the religion does not hinder the progress of women, but social constraints, do. Parents fear that their daughters can be harassed by men.”
However, she said that there is a considerable awareness among the parents nowadays. But that is only 75 per cent. The rest still remain anxious.
“We conduct many programmes that bring out the talents of young girls. We also encourage and counsel the girls so that they pursue education. In my opinion, parents must be counseled too about the need for education. It’s only then girls would be released from the familial restrictions”