Life in Gurgaon

Lok Sabha elections 2019: Women voters demand more schools, better opportunities

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Dressed in a white salwar kameez, an old woman with a slightly hunched posture and a slow gait walks down the street that leads to the government middle school in Nuh’s Roz-ka-Meo village. Holding the hands of her two granddaughters, 55-year-old Asiya stops when the school appears in sight. The girls — six-year-old Tarannum and seven-year-old Safiya — study in class 1 and 3 respectively. Asiya’s biggest dream is to give her granddaughters an education that she was deprived of.

“I want my girls to study and do well for themselves when they grow up. Education will empower them and allow them to carve out their own paths,” said Asiya.

She, however, worries they will not be able to complete their education after all. “The only school in the village provides education only up to class 8. Teachers are not present on all days, but at least the girls get to study something. But what will they do after class 8? The higher secondary school is in the other village, some three to four kilometres away and it will be risky for me to send them outside the village,” adds Asiya, who goes by her first name.

She hopes that the new government would set up more schools for girls, but has little to say when asked about her possible choice for the upcoming polls. “I am yet to decide but I’ll support the party which promises to create schools and ensure that dowry is completely abolished. I had to sell my land to arrange for my daughters’ wedding. Dowry is a burden on us but no one does anything to put an end to the practice,” said Asiya.

Like Asiya, many women across the district are slowly but steadily realising the importance of education as a tool of empowerment. In Punhana’s Shikrawa village, 15-year-old Afroz talks about the importance of making education a poll plank. The class 10 student of Mewat Model School, Punhana, lives away from her family in a hostel so as to secure an education that schools in her village do not offer. “Girls should be educated. Political parties should go door-to-door and make parents aware of their plans regarding education. My parents will only vote for those parties that make education a priority,” adds Afroz. Her mother Roshni nods in agreement, as she patiently listens to her daughter.

Roshni said, “I want my daughter to study and get a job. She should be become independent and give back to the community.”

She was critical of the government for not doing enough to empower women. “The BJP government talks about Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao but offers no facilities for girls who want to study. There are not sufficient higher secondary schools in villages across the district. How can we send our girls far when there is no guarantee of their safety? We need more schools, and better schools,” said Roshni.