Learn more about how Jesuit Missions supports girls like Shanthi, in celebration of the UN International Day of the Girl
While adolescent girls have the right to a safe and healthy life, they still face huge barriers to equality. Globally, just 39% of rural girls attend secondary school (UN, 2020). Jesuit Missions is working with Jesuit partners in many parts of the world to empower and educate young girls, providing them with opportunities to flourish.
It is for this reason Jesuit Missions is committed to recognising the UN’s International Day of the Girl on 11 October.
One of our partners in India is the Loyola Integrated Tribal Development Society (LITDS). LITDS provides education, nutritious food and secure accommodation for displaced children. Much of their work is focused on protecting girls and providing them with further educational opportunities.
Shanthi was born in Chhattisgarh, India. She is from the Gothikoya tribe, which faces extreme persecution from the Naxals (a Maoist armed group which is active in south-eastern India) and the state security forces as a result of over fifty years of bitter insurgency. To protect themselves, they have built settlements in forest areas which are not recognised by the government. This makes it hard for girls to go to school.
Shanthi lost her father when she was 10-years-old. Her mother raised her brother and three sisters alone. This was extremely difficult for Shanthi’s mother, although Shanthi was receiving support from LITDS. They enabled her to gain formal education and she became the first in her family to do so.
In India, formal education finishes at 15 years old. At this age, gender stereotyping and the limited employment opportunities for people without education mean that girls become particularly vulnerable to child marriage.
To empower girls and give them a better future, LITDS offers a two-year nursing course that helps them find employment in hospitals. There are currently twenty-four girls studying nursing and five of them are employed as nurses. One of these is Shanthi.
Shanthi’s intelligence and passion for learning meant that she was able to complete her Tenth Standard qualification, the equivalent to British GCSEs. With the support of LITDS, she subsequently completed her nurse’s training. Today she is working as a nurse in St. Joseph’s Hospital. She is supporting her family financially and has become a respected member of the community.
She told LITDS that she is so happy to be able to stand by herself and assist her family in this way. She is also grateful to Jesuit Missions for making the support from LITDS possible.
Accompanying girls like Shanthi is a crucial part of our work. Jesuit Missions seeks to empower young women and challenge gender stereotypes in countries like India. We are humbled by Shanthi’s journey and keep her in our prayers.