Sonia reports and reflects upon India’s gender gap in education.
The district Nanubhai works in, Surat, a district of opulence and diamonds, also holds the reputation of
bearing the lowest female child sex-ratio in the country. While the national average is 914 girls to 1000
boys, Surat boasts of having 831 girls to 1000 boys. Yes, we can argue that 914 is not a figure you would
want to boast about either. I recently came across this article about Haryanvi men marrying foreigners
simply because there weren’t enough women available to tie the knot. Will this become an eventual
norm, maybe? As a country, India brags about having a population of 1.2 billion. Yet, when it comes to
gender equality and ratio, the gap widens.
The solution to narrowing this gender gap is education. The cliché answer most people would have
would probably be like, “send girls to school and college so they can earn money and become
knowledgeable”. In a world where people preach, argue, debate and forget, Nanubhai tends to
implement those arguments and debates into sustainable ventures. I spent my past week visiting and
interviewing scholars who live in villages and hamlets across southern Gujarat. When most families meet
me and realize I am a native Gujarati speaker, they tell me their stories: stories which made me
appreciate the power of trust and humanity. For them, this college degree is their pathway to a decent
lifestyle and a full, square meal. To walk this path, they have to sacrifice. They leave their farms and
families and venture into the unknown.
Despite the imperfections, I have learned to see hope in Gujarat. There are moments when the cold
person in me is unable to react to warm Gujarati hospitality. There are moments when I don’t know how
to fade away when I listen to some of the stories. There are moments when I don’t know how to accept
the changes or places I come across. My journeys to distant hamlets and villages might soon come to an
end but those stories won’t. They have become a part of me.