The Right to Learn

"Everything we shut our eyes to, everything we run away from, everything we deny, denigrate or despise, serves to defeat us in the end.?" - Rigoberta Manchu Tum.

Women are quite possibly the most disadvantaged section of the human population. With the onset of the 21st century, their status in society has improved, yet at the same time it remains far behind what the radical feminists envisaged during the feminist revolution.

I think to myself that even all the money in the world can'?t change men?'s attitude when it comes to allowing women and young girls the right to learn. As Indian society becomes more westernized, Indian girls are rebelling. However, their attempts are proving to be very futile because at the end of the day they'?re still minors in the eyes of the law and under their parents control.

I used to attend an all girls convent school and I saw my own friends, who were brilliant when it came to studies, not being able to pursue science in the 11th grade because their parents believed that the course is too challenging for a girl to pursue, or pointless because she will eventually just get married off and take care of her offspring.

In India especially we hear of so many cases everyday of young girls being married off before they reach 17 years of age. I realized just how serious this issue is after seeing one of my friends experience it. My friend?'s situation is the one that first incensed me and made me realize just how important our fundamental right to learn is. It made me realize that by denying someone the right to learn, you're robbing them of their future and of their ability to carve their own destiny. It made me realize how much most people disregard their human rights until they are taken away and we are made to suffer the consequences. It made me realize that if we want to better ours or someone else?'s life, we need to take action - to step up and take a stand and to make our voices heard.

I look at my own family and realize how very lucky I am, because my grandfather serves as a constant source of encouragement to his daughters as well as grandchildren to study and do well in life so that when the time comes we are able to stand on our own two feet.

We all have arenas to display our activism. As a teenager, I have a school, a center of learning to vocalize my stand and make my voice heard. Because if us vocalizing our opinions and taking a stand will

motivate older people to step up and take notice, then one by one we will be able to change people?s attitudes so that we can have a future where women are as equally empowered as men.

Like Mary Wollstonecraft? said,? "Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience.?"

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Aleka Raju
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