Following restrictions brought about by the pandemic, we resumed literacy courses in India last September. Hence, 105 women are learning reading, writing, and the basic concepts of mathematics, Bengali, and English. Moreover, they receive masks and soap to maintain hygiene and avoid Covid-19 infection.

In addition to classes, teachers also conduct sessions on family care, guidelines on raising and educating children, and hygiene habits to improve the living conditions in their homes.

Economic Growth and Discrimination

In recent decades, India has managed to improve the situation of its population, particularly that of women, child nutrition, immunization and school enrollment rates. It has also achieved a significant economic growth. However, gender inequality persists: violence against women remains rampant, women’s participation in government remains low, and discriminatory dowry and inheritance practices continue.

The Constitution guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination against women. At the same time, however, it permits discriminatory acts against girls and women. The minimum age for marriage is 18 for women and 21 for men, but under Islamic laws (though not codified), men can determine the acceptable time for a woman to marry, and this sometimes happens at puberty. In India, more than 50% of women get married before the age of 18. The demand for brides has increased, especially in rural communities where one can find countless girls who have immigrated to cities in search of work, fueling the trafficking of women for forced marriage. In some cases, young girls are forced to marry and are then used as unpaid laborers: a local day laborer costs $140 a season, but a bride/wife can cost as little as $100 as one-time payment for lifelong service.

Image: Literacy classes are conducted in students’ homes. Sometimes, as can be seen in the image, several people come together at the same address (Global Humanitaria / NIDS)