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Home / India News / 2007 / May 2007 / May 9, 2007
UNICEFs Girl Stars embark on literacy awareness voyage
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UNICEFs Girl Stars embark on literacy awareness voyage

UNICEF India has selected fifteen girls from across the country and is projecting them as role models to promote literacy in several states, which fared poorly in literacy.

New Delhi, May 9 : UNICEF India has selected fifteen girls from across the country and is projecting them as role models to promote literacy in several states, which fared poorly in literacy.

The campaign, which was launched on Wednesday, have 15 'Girl Stars' from some of the most disadvantaged communities in India, who through education and personal initiative have become successful and self-sufficient.

They have been chosen by UNICEF to represent their 'Girl Stars' multimedia project to inspire millions of girls in India to stay in school.

The campaign began with the flagging off of a road show in which these women will travel in three colourful trucks to villages in Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, where girl's education indicators are falling behind.

"Girl stars are everyday winning girls who have changed their lives by going to school. It's a multimedia initiative supported by UNICEF. We have stories and young women whom you can meet today from 'Anita the Beekeeper' to 'Kiran the Junkyard Dealer' who have changed their lives by completing their education. They are from Bihar, UP (Uttar Pradesh), Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand," said Lisa Heydlauff, a representative of 'Going to School'.

UNICEF has forged an alliance with a non-profit organisation called 'Going to School' in the national capital to launch this campaign.

The fifteen women include a forest activist, an archer, a radio presenter and folk singer, a bee-keeper, a junkyard dealer, and a small loans manager among others.

The 15 achievers shared their experiences with scores of female students from different schools in New Delhi.

"If you are poor then the initiative to fight the poverty and bring about an economic reform to your family's financial situation is yours. I wish you all the best to study hard... save every penny you can to buy the best books available. Learn as many good things as you can," said Jyoti Rose Tirkey, a radio presenter and folk singer with Doordarshan.

The stories of Anita, the bee-keeper and Kiran, the junkyard dealer, have been included in text books issued by the Education Ministry.

"There is very little education in Rajasthan (for the girl child). But I still worked very hard and tried to work to the best of my capabilities. I got married just after I completed standard eight. I wanted to study more but I was not allowed to. But I convinced my in-laws to let me work. Now, I work with an NGO. And that has brought me here to you people today," said Durga Bai, a health worker in Udaipur.

The women will travel through three states, show films to communities in 180 villages over 30 days, with the objective of engaging these communities in an open dialogue about the importance of educating girls, and the power of education to transform lives.

Though India has some of the best engineering and medical schools in the world and also one of the largest pools of scientists, nearly 40 per cent of Indians are still illiterate.

While things are gradually improving across the country, where more parents are breaking age-old taboos, the task is uphill as extreme poverty makes it impossible for the girls to go to schools.


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