Anand Mahindra started Project Nanhi Kali in 1996 with a convention of empowering young girls and women through education.
This article has been sponsored by Mahindra Rise.
She wakes up at 5 in the morning. The alarm clock is her best friend and worst enemy because although it ensures she is not late, it reminds her of the long day and hours of labour ahead. From unending household chores to the countless responsibilities she shoulders, every day is a fight of perseverance.
This is not the story of one little girl, but of 33 million out-of-school young girls between the ages of 5 to 17 years. Instead of studying, learning new things at school or even daydreaming, they slog their years away, taking care of everybody else, except themselves. Caught in the vicious cycle of socio-economic disparity and gender bias, these girls are denied the life they deserve.
However, to clear this gloom, Anand Mahindra started Project Nanhi Kali in 1996 with a convention of empowering young girls and women through education. Nanhi Kali believes that a holistic approach to girls’ education correlates with several issues, such as a reduction in child and maternal mortality, improvement of child nutrition, health, financial empowerment and so on.
A pan-India programme, jointly managed by the K.C Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation, it is designed to support girls from underprivileged backgrounds to complete 10 years of school education. So far, the Nanhi Kali project has transformed the lives of over 500,000 girls across 14 states in India.
One such girl is Manisha Bairva, a native of Radhapura village, Sheopur district, Madhya Pradesh. She comes from a farmer’s family stricken by poverty. Supported by the sole earnings of her father, the family of 6 people struggles to make ends meet. Even though her parents always wanted to secure a good education for their children, their financial situation made it extremely difficult.
But Manisha’s life changed after being enrolled into the Nanhi Kali project. The project supported her every step of the way, providing regular academic support (including access to an EdTech learning platform), school supplies, feminine hygiene material as well as moral support and encouragement to help her realise her full potential.
Today, she is one of the brightest students in the Government School Jaatkheda with the highest attendance and also a Bal Sarpanch, who inspires her peers and many of her teachers. An aspiring teacher herself, Manisha’s leadership qualities are admired by many in her community and she is the perfect example of Nanhi Kali’s ultimate goal— to create empowered and independent women who write their own destinies.
“At Nanhi Kali, we believe that every girl should be in school. An educated girl lays the foundation of success not only for herself, but also for her family, her community, and the nation. Nanhi Kali has empowered over 500,000 girls in India with access to quality education. It is not just about the joy of learning, but more importantly, instilling a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the girls,” says Sheetal Mehta, Trustee & Executive Director, K.C. Mahindra Education Trust.
In keeping with this idea, Project Nanhi Kali has released a film that evokes powerful emotions and highlights the importance of girls’ education.
The film draws a parallel between two Lajjos, living in a community set amidst the hilly terrains of North India. One is a young girl with eyes sparkling with dreams, and the other is a buffalo tethered to a peg. Their lives, although expected to be different, are very similar. Why so?
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