Entering the village school full of young girls, I was greeted by peals of laughter— there was a break in which they were all play acting—one was wearing a makeshift lab coat and playing doctor, another young one was wearing big glasses, holding a chalk in one hand, and was playing teacher, while one had made a huge tower from blocks and was pointing to her becoming a civil engineer and making big buildings. Where was I? It’s not important because I have travelled to the remotest villages with UNICEF across India and seen the same over and over again.
Those smiles and their dreams, their trust in us, the faith in their dreams and role playing —have constantly reinstated my hope. Over a decade of working with UNICEF to empower the girl child, to ensure access to education for the girls, is working— maybe in small steps but the efforts can be seen. The statistics staring at us may be staggering but then, let us not focus on how big the numbers are. Worldwide, over 250 million children and youth are out of school, so the battle is global. Which means, more effort from all of us as a responsible society. If the battle is big, let’s match our efforts to that scale, and up the ante on how we can help reduce that number. Bring more smiles, send more girls to school, ensure less dropouts and empower every girl child’s dream.
Today, on October 11, 2018, International Day of the Girl Child, I have teamed up with YouTube to highlight the importance of educating a girl child. What I love about it is that through this campaign, viewers will be directly linked to stories from NGOs making an impact all across the nation. Our goal? To improve access and quality of education for the girl child. And the best part? In an effort to truly make a difference in bridging the learning gap in India, Google.org – Google’s philanthropic arm, has announced a grant of $200,000 to UNICEF India to support their ongoing efforts… and I am so so grateful.