Dr. Urvashi Sahni’s book Reaching for the Sky now available on Amazon

Transforming the Lives of Marginalized Girls in Patriarchal Societies

Since 2003 a privately funded high school has provided desperately needed education for girls from impoverished families in Lucknow, the capital and largest city in Uttar Pradesh, in northeast India. Urvashi Sahni, the founder of Prerna Girls School, tells the stories of how the school has changed the lives of more than 5,000 girls and their families. Most important, this book tells those stories from the perspectives of the girls themselves, rather than through a remote academic perspective.

The book focuses on how gender equality can be achieved in a patriarchal society through education. It shows how girls learn to be equal and autonomous persons in school as part of their official curriculum and how they use this learning to transform their lives and those of their families. The book’s central argument is that education can be truly transformative if it addresses the everyday reality of girls’ lives and responds to their special needs and challenges with respect and care.

Although Reaching for the Sky describes just one relatively small school in one corner of India, the book’s message and the stories it tells will interest anyone concerned about the necessity of girls’ education, especially in developing countries. The lives of the girls at Prerna Girls School are largely representative of those of millions of girls living in poor contexts in countries where patriarchal structures and norms prevail.




Reaching for the Sky: Empowering Girls Through Education Kindle Edition Click here

India’s Daughters Campaign enters the ‘Mango Belt’

Taking India’s Daughters Campaign 2017 to the rural areas of Lucknow, the Study Hall Educational Foundation’s Vidyashali School in Mahilabad organized an Awareness March against child marriage on May 17, 2017. The students of Vidyasthali participated in the march which started from the school and covered thoroughfare areas neighboring village Saliamau.

A street play – Bal Vivah Ghulami Hai - against child marriage was also staged at four different locations during the match.

Over 200 community members signed the petition against child marriage as part of the signature campaign.

This awareness march was preceded by a series of critical dialogues with the Vidyasthali students to build a deeper understanding of the detrimental social norms and to question malpractices like child marriage. Post these discussion children prepared placards and banners to take out in the community and also drafted the script for the street play which was staged during the march.

The procession made stops at local mosques and temples collected signatures of Faith Leaders on a pledge against child marriage.

Towards reforming Government schools in UP: A meeting with DyCM Dinesh Sharma

Dr. Urvashi Sahni, President of Studyhall Educational  Foundation, met Dy CM Dinesh Sharma and discussed the state of primary and secondary education in Uttar Pradesh. Dr. Sahni, who is also a member of the Rajasthan chief minister’s advisory council (education), appraised Sharma about how administrative reforms in Rajasthan had lead to the migration of 10 lakh students from private schools to government schools in Rajasthan.

Prof Sharma showed the keen interest in knowing how the change was brought about in Rajasthan. He said that the current Yogi government was determined to bring about positive changes in primary and secondary education and he would like to discuss this further.

To this, Dr. Sahni explained that integration of primary and secondary school, reducing teacher vacancies, rationalization of teacher appointments based on the need of the school, a collection of accurate school data through a technology portal, Shaala darpan, along with increasing teacher accountability were among the major factors for change.

As a follow up of the meeting, Dy CM Dinesh Sharma suggested that he would like to arrange a presentation before the chief minister Yogi Aditynath and table her suggestions to chalk out the roadmap for educational reform in UP.

She also presented a memorandum to stop child marriage in UP as part of the India’s Daughters Campaign being run by the Study Hall Educational Foundation.

India’s Daughters Campaign – Rally taken out against child marriage

The Study Hall Educational Foundation organized an awareness march against child marriage to launch its 5th India’s Daughters Campaign 2017 on April 1, 2017.
With over 200 participants the rally started from Gandhi Pratima in Hazaratganj and moved towards Jawahar Bhawan.
Students Prerna Girls School , 8 Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Study Hall School, Vidyasthali and GyanSetu participated in the rally.
As a follow-up a memorandum against child marriage was given to the chief minister and the governor.
Naheed from Prayatna (NGO) said that this is a very good attempt to draw the attention of the crowd towards a very sensitive issue.
Dr Sahni added to her voice saying the onus is now on the state government to take this issue forward.
Mahant Diya Giri of Mankamneshwar Temple also spoke on the occasion and said the since the inception of the law against child marriage not a lot has changed and one of the major reasons for child marriage is illiteracy and lack of strict implementation of the law.
A Nukkad Natak titled Bal Vivah Ghulami Hai was also staged on the issue.
5 child marriage survivors also participated in the event.
One of the child marriage survivor Fatima Khatoon (name changed) said that had my teachers not saved me from the child marriage I would not had two kids by now and I would not be supporting my family through a job.
Mamta Singh, Humsafar, Neha Naidu, UNICEF, Swarnima Singh, Suraksha, Chhavi Jain, Suraksha, Naheed Aqueel, Prayatna, Shaista Ambar, All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, Mohd. Idrees Ambar, All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, Prof Nishi Pandey, Lucknow University, Rakhee Panjwani, Principal  Prerna Girls School, Kahkashaw Parween, Mahila Samakhya, Shubhagi, AALI, Jagdish Gupta, Mankamneshwar Math, Akhilesh Tiwari, Sarathi, Shipra Jha, Girls Not Brides, Neelofer Khan, Uttar Pradesh Police Mahila Samman Prakoshtha, J Ram, Social Welfare Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh , Swarnima Singh, Suraksha, Lucknow, Chhavi Jain, Suraksha, Lucknow, Prof Nishi Pandey, Institute of Women’s Studies, Lucknow University , Aftab Mohammad, CP Specialist. UNICEF, Shachi Sharma, Sahayog India, Deepika, Sahayog India and Ibrahim, Nadwa (Muslim Education Institution) also lent their voice to the rally.

India’s Daughters Campaign – Awareness March – April 1, 2017
India’s Daughters Campaign – Awareness March – April 1, 2017 – Mankamneshwar Mahant Divya Giri
India’s Daughters Campaign – Awareness March – Street Play – Bal Vivah Ghulami Hai – April 1, 2017

Around the Campus July 2016

For Literary Excellence at St.Teresa School, Lucknow

The junior school students participated in various events at St.Teresa’s school and made us proud with their performances.While little Praharsh won the first prize in the “spell bee” competition,  Sanskriti of standard II bagged the first prize in “story telling competition”.Sanchit Gupta of Standard III also took part in “read aloud competition”, and Samra from standard I participated in “jumble word competition” and got the third prize.


Lucknow chapter of IIMUN was organised by Indian International MUN,(Mumbai) from 22nd Of July ’16 to 24th of July’16 at Allen House School Lucknow. A delegation of approximately fifty students participated and bagged several prizes from Study Hall School. Study Hall School was awarded the title of “THE BEST SCHOOL DELEGATION” by Honourable governor Ram Naik. It was not only in debating that Study Hall students showcased their talents but also in management skills as the whole event was managed by logistic members from Study Hall .

  • Best school Delegation trophy-Study Hall
  • Committee Prizes :
  • Siddhant Mishra-1st prize
  • Arushi Dixit-1st prize
  • Tanya Nanda-2nd prize
  • Ashutosh Raj-2nd prize
  • Arjun Chaudhary-2nd prize
  • Aditya Shukla-2nd prize
  • Special Mentions: Yashasvi Krishna
  • Verbal Mentions: Chaitanya Mohan,Vinayak Dixit, Saman Hussain,Apoorva Vardhan
  • Best photographer-Akriti Rastogi


The Study Hall Universe of Care deserves a clap for changing the lives of the students enrolled here, for better. The real life experiences given here, impact the minds of the students and teach them things which can never be forgotten.The youngsters of class 5 were fascinated while studying about the country’s constitution and government.

To understand how India is a true democracy, the class activity included getting the children into groups.Each group gave a class presentation on their “Party”, for which they decided on a name and prepared a symbol placard, a slogan banner and a speech for canvassing.
This was followed by all the children of class 5, casting a secret vote in the Ballot box to elect the Junior School Cabinet.Their participation in the election of the Junior School Student’s Council made them feel very proud and taught them the importance of elections in our country.



The senior girls of Prerna Girls School organised a panel discussion on child marriage on 15th July, 2016 .The panel comprised of Prerna alumni, Prerna boys and Prerna girls, Dr Urvashi Sahni, Mrs. Shalini Chandra, Mrs. Suparna Chatterjee, Madhu [a parent ] along with Dr Smita Singh and Ms Shipra Hitesh [ both visiting faculty, Lucknow University ]were the guest participants .The programme was graced by the presence of Ms.Rebecca Winthrop,Director, Global Education, Brookings Institution, Washington D. C., who was  visiting the Study Hall Foundation . Prerna girls Panchkumari and Kirti Gupta conducted the discussion brilliantly.

The discussion began with the understanding of the term Child marriage and then moved on to it’s reasons and repercussions and finally to finding ways to end this malpractice. There were poignant moments when girls and parents recounted their personal experiences. Many of them broke down ,making everyone in the jam packed hall realise the gravity of the problem .The hall resounded with applause when a father got up to admit that he made a mistake by getting his elder daughter married very early but he would let his younger daughters study as much as they wanted .

A visibly moved Ms. Winthrop talked of her experiences while working in other countries and praised the Prerna girls for their courage and enterprise. The Principal, Prerna Girls School – Mrs. Rakhee Panjwani proposed the vote of thanks.

Top Mentor : NSTSE 2016 (Unified Council)

Congratulations  to Mrs. Anuradha Baijal from Study Hall for being the Top 5 Mentors across Uttar Pradesh for highest Student Participation in NSTSE 2016 (Unified Council). She is a inspiration and regular source of encouragement for all students.

Veerangana Rally 2015

Led by the Veeranganas of Prerna Girls School, teachers and students of the Study Hall School, Vidyasthali Kanar High School, Study Hall Centre for Learning, Digital Study Hall and Gyansetu Non Formal Education Centres came together for an awareness campaign against street violence and to promote girls’ education.They were joined by teams from all the eight Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas of Lucknow district. They assembled in Study Hall School on Sunday, November 9th, 2015  and then they were divided into three groups, each more than 200 strong. Raising slogans, carrying banners and placards and singing songs with gusto, they marched in the lanes and by lanes of Ujariyaon, Digdiga and Gwari villages. People climbed on rooftops and thronged the open spaces to see the street plays that were repeated many times.The Veers, the boys from Prerna boys felt proud to carry the message along with the Veeranganas. More than 2000 persons signed the pledge to stop and resist street violence. The campaign touched almost 40,000 people with the message STOP AND RESIST STREET AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

Community Mobilization Training Programme 2015

Study Hall foundation is running the “Aarohini Programme” in Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas of Uttar Pradesh for empowering adolescent girls from the marginalized communities .As a part of the program, teachers training sessions are being organized for using innovative methods for informing and educating the parents about their daughters’ rights.

One such training was recently organized by the Digital Study Hall at Rampur, July 2015 for the teachers of all the seven KGBVs of the district .The teachers were made to understand the need for mobilizing the community and the importance of getting the message across without hurting the dignity of anyone .They were inspired to plan creatively for their Parent – Teacher Meetings .They enjoyed preparing and presenting issue based plays .These plays will be part of the PTMs. Members of the School Management Committee were invited on the third day. They were all parents and most were not literate .Initially, they were diffident but after the ice breaker game, they were receptive and interactive. During the feedback, they all said that they had never felt so important and so worthy in their lives.

-Shalini Chandra,Head Pedagogy, Digital Study Hall


Dr. Urvashi Sahni
President & CEO, Studyhall Educational Foundation, Lucknow
& Non-resident Fellow,The Brookings Institution, DC, USA

Before July 17th 2014 a 6 year old girl was raped in an upscale private school in Bangalore and a young woman was raped and murdered brutally in Lucknow, her mutilated body found in an upper primary school campus. The horrific sexual assault of Nirbhaya in Dec 2012 and the more recent twin rapes and murder by hanging of two teen girls in Badaun ( also in UP) still haunt us. These cases of sexual violence against women and girls are now almost daily instances of a deeper malaise that ails us. The incidence of sexual abuse faced by children in India is not a secret. There have been several studies that have alerted us to the problem. A study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, with the help of Unicef, Save the Children and a Delhi based NGO Prayas in 2007 reported that two out of three children face physical abuse, and 53.2% children face sexual abuse in some form and 21.9% being abused severely. 50% of the abusers were people known to the children and were people in a position of trust and responsibility. It also found that children in institutional care reported the highest incidence of sexual abuse and assault. According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights, number of reported child rapes had gone up from 2,113 in 2001 to 7,112 in 2011. The issue of incestuous sexual abuse still remains shrouded in silence due to misplaced perceptions of ‘honour’ and fear. The extent to which it prevails still lies unmapped. The supreme court recently refused to recognise marital ‘rape’ as a criminal offence! Consider that India is home to 1/3rd of the 10 million child brides in the world! When girls are married off (read, physically, economically and sexually bonded) at 14 yrs, 15 yrs and lower, with no say in the matter, to strangers they have never seen, with no negotiating power, no rights of refusal or choice in their sexual relations with their husbands, is that not akin to rape? According to UNPF, more than 2/3rd married women between 15 and 49 years have been beaten and forced to provide sex. The law protecting children from sex abuse was enacted as recently as 2012 and the one recognising domestic violence as a criminal offence in 2005!
Women and Girls are unsafe at home, at school and on the streets. In a country where girls are largely unwanted, evidenced by the large rates of female foeticide and seen as a liability, evidenced by the high rates of child marriage and trafficking of girls, where education for girls receives scant importance -3.78 million girls are still out of school, unsafe schools will be a further deterrent for parents to send their girls to school. Physically schools are not safe. According to the Census of 2011, 53% households and 11 % schools had no toilets. This is a safety hazard to girls and women as girls have no choice but to relieve themselves in unsafe public spots.

What is the Government doing to address this problem? The current Govt has made some moves in this direction by announcing a Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign. Coupling girls safety and their education is a very insightful and intelligent move, provided there is a deeper realisation of what this entails. The interim budget has allocated Rs.100 crores for this campaign, Rs. 50 crores for Safety for women in public transport, Rs.150 crores for safety for women in large cities and Rs.3600 crores for drinking water schemes and for public toilets. Though the intentions are laudable, it has been pointed out by some that while Rs.100 crores have been allocated to womens safety, Rs. 200 crores have been allocated to the construction of a statue! The comparative value assigned to each speaks volumes of the actual importance given to girls and women by the Government.! The statements issued in response to the rapes by Chief Ministers in UP and Karnataka both are also revealing of a general attitude of apathy and impatient annoyance! Almost a feeling of – we have so many more important issues to deal with, why are we focussing so much on this?

While girls education has received some attention as a result of global advocacy and focus, a wider view of education is needed, to include the physical, social and political circumstances in which girls live their lives. Girls lives are in peril!

Several steps need to be taken in order to give concrete shape to the Save daughters Educate daughters campaign. But educators have an important role to play.

Education must include gender studies in the core curriculum of schools so that gendered mindsets which are the root cause of the problem, are critically examined, deconstructed and replaced by more equitable ones. The Government’s recommendation to include a chapter for gender mainstreaming in the curriculum is a welcome move, but more is needed. There should be a whole course devoted to gender studies. Sex Education with a focus on gender power relations, sexual and reproductive rights of women and a more respectful and egalitarian definition of womanhood and manhood should be discussed in schools. We must all learn to value girls and women more! Boys must learn to value and respect women and girls, take responsibility for the increasing violence against girls and learn to respect girls’ right to their own bodies. Girls must be empowered by their education to speak up when they are abused, learn to protest and to protect themselves, to demand their right to bodily integrity and respect at home and outside. Parent communities must be addressed by educators so that they learn to value their daughters for more than the sexual, domestic and reproductive labour they can provide

Civil society must keep up the pressure on the Government so that crimes against girls and women are taken seriously by the police, the judiciary and the administration and stern, expeditious action taken when girls are violated anywhere – at home, in school, on the streets.

Immediate action must be taken to provide the infrastructure required to ensure the safety of girls and women on the streets, in schools and other institutions – toilets in schools, more and better policing, inclusion of more female staff in the police force, as teachers, bus drivers and conductors. There is a flurry of activity by schools and parents to ensure safety for girls on their way to and from school and in school, which is a good sign, but it is not enough! Now is the time to help women and girls realise their absolute right to live life as equal, autonomous persons worthy of respect and to do all that it takes to make this a reality.


I am a rap artist from Oakland CA. I write and produce all my material. This is my video, Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this movement.

- Randolph Young

International Women’s Day around the World and in India: Progress and Strategies for Action

Dr. Urvashi Sahni
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Co-Authored by
Xanthe Ackerman

International Women’s Day, March 8th, is here again, and it is time to take stock of women’s lives in the world today.  Great progress has been made in education and for women more broadly. Still, so much work remains to ensure that women are empowered, educated, safe, healthy and free to be fully participating members of equal societies.  In India, the recent groundswell of support for women and girls speaks to the potential to overturn harmful gender norms.  We need approaches, such as self-organizing and campaigning for women’s rights, gender-sensitive education, and including men in the fight for equality, that go beyond business as usual.  At the global level, it is critical that the next set of development goals hold actors to better account for progress for women and girls.


In many countries, the situation for women is improving at the highest levels of leadership and among the poor, even if slowly.  There are now 17 female heads of state around the world—almost twice as many as in 1990.  According to UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report, the number of countries where girls face severe gender disparity – defined as having less than nine girls in primary school for every ten boys – has dropped from 33 countries in 1999 to 17 in 2010.  Gender parity at the secondary level has improved and, when girls make it to the secondary level in most countries, their retention and progression is the same or better than boys.  More women are receiving antenatal care and skilled assistance during delivery—one of the most critical times in the prevention of maternal mortality.


While the international community welcomes and celebrates the gains for women and girls, much more needs to be done to ensure women and girl’s equality, and to meet the goals set out by the first set of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  Women are still largely unsafe, unwanted and unequal in the developing world.  There are 4 million missing women and girls each year in developing countries.  They are killed in the womb, soon after birth or during their child-bearing years.  Most countries will miss the Education For All goal of a 50 percent improvement in adult literacy—a challenge that disproportionately affects women, who make up about two-thirds of the 775 million adults who cannot read.  In addition to addressing lagging progress in female mortality reduction and access to education and economic opportunity, the World Development Report 2012 calls for renewed efforts to increase women’s voice and agency in the home and society, and to limit the reproduction of gender inequality across generations. Gender-based violence also continues to plague women around the world.  According to CARE’s Women and Empowerment report, at least one in three females has been physically or sexually abused, often repeatedly and by a relative or acquaintance.  Violence rivals cancer as a cause of morbidity and mortality for women of child-bearing age.


In India, the case for renewed commitment to women and girls is clear.  The government has made significant efforts to improve conditions for women and girls, including creating a large-scale girls’ education program that provides schools and support for girls in rural areas and has already helped to narrow the gender gap.  Still, much remains to be done by the government and all other stakeholders.  The child mortality rate in India is the highest in the world and some estimate that in India 1 million girls are killed in the womb each year, and.  In terms of education, gender overlaps with other causes of marginalization, including poverty, location (rural vs. urban) and social factors, such caste and tribe to worsen access and outcomes.  For instance, according to the World Inequality Database on Education, in 2005, 31 percent of women age 17-22 years had less than four years of school, compared to 16 percent of men.  Among the poor in the poorer regions of India, the numbers were as high as 91 percent of women compared to 55 percent of men.


Of all the challenges that women and girls face, to some, having no voice is among the most intolerable.  Heroines the world over who struggle to be free and to make their voices heard, even when confronting lethal consequences.  Malala was shot because she voiced the right to education for women in Pakistan, and Nirbhaya in India was brutally raped and murdered because she expressed her right to travel freely.  For any known story, there are millions of lesser known cases such as Khusboo.  This young woman in Uttar Pradesh, India received an education—a gender-based education that made empowerment the central goal—and she thereby found the courage to voice her right to complete high school.  She resisted her father’s attempt to marry her off at 16 and for that she was beaten mercilessly and cast out of his house.  To share her story and her voice, she recently made an award-winning autobiographical video that showed the abuse she faced and the triumph of holding up the diploma she earned.

On International Women’s Day, let us celebrate women’s triumphs, but let us also consider what more can be done to confront the reality that so many women face.  The following are strategies that show promise in India and can be replicated and scaled.

Strategy #1: Self-Organize and Challenge the Status Quo 

Advocacy campaigns that demand gender equality, examine gender norms and address the inconsistency of patriarchal structures in democratic societies are critical and can be highly effective.  On February 14, 2013, Valentine’s Day, millions of women and many men rose up against gender-based violence across the globe.  In India, thousands of people of all ages and gender took to the streets with banners, slogans, songs, street plays and dances, celebrating women and supporting their right to control their lives, their right to a safe world, their right to a voice.  The India’s Daughters Campaign represents a civil society effort along these lines and has used mobile technology to engage and organize youth in the most rural areas, including the students at 28 girls’ schools.

Campaigning as a part of the ongoing public outcry following the rape and death of Nirbhaya has resulted in the constitution of a high-level committee to review laws related to sexual crimes.  The committee produced The Justice Verma report in record-breaking time.  The report makes several recommendations to the government including judicial, political, police and military reforms.  The committee also recommended that the Parliament promulgate a special bill of rights for women to ensure a life of safety and dignity, including in marriage.  For the first time there is mention of “sexual autonomy” for women, and there is some recognition of marital rape as a crime.  Severe punishments for rape and for all sexual offences are recommended, including stalking and sexual harassment in the work place.  The committee writes that all marriages should be registered, which will make it possible to identify and prevent child marriages, which are widely prevalent in India.  In addition, police should be subject to punitive action for not registering cases of rape and other sexual crimes.  Jody Williams, civil rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner for her work on the Campaign to Ban Landmines, states “impunity” as the single biggest reason that violence against women continues to exist in such large numbers.  Accordingly, the Justice Verma Report tries to make the law more responsive.

People in India are demanding that the issue of women’s safety be taken seriously by the government, and the state has, in this instance, responded.  Their actions pave the way for further progress.  For instance, a recent budget declaration allocates 200 million USD for the “safety of women” and civil society organizations are now organizing to understand how the Ministry of Women and Children will spend this money. The fact that the elections are only a year away could be a factor in government’s responsiveness to civil society demands.  Even so, women are being taken seriously as a political constituency to be recognized and considered.

The movement that led to the Justice Verma Report has been hugely successful, but there is more work to be done.  Advocacy efforts should focus not only on these issues and judicial responses, but also the administrative environment and ability for crimes to be redressed quickly. The Indian government passed an ordinance recognizing 90 percent of the recommendations, but left out two important ones.  Marital rape has still been denied legal recognition, leaving women unsafe in the domestic space, and the armed forces have been left out of the punitive net.  Both are grave omissions, and women’s organizations are contesting them strongly.

Strategy #2: Include Gender Education in the Curriculum

Since critical dialogues can lead to real change in society with positive outcomes for women and men, we must note that the education system can support these dialogues by introducing gender education in the curriculum to sensitize and empower both girls and boys.  What is most significant in the recent events in India is that we have seen that girls and women (at least in urban areas) are finding their “voice” and are raising it.  Critical dialogues and discussions around gender are taking place all over, in the media, universities, government, policymaking halls of power, schools, cafes, homes, and on the streets.  Gender has become, at least for the now, an important issue.  This transformation can and should happen in every school for every girl and boy.  Even now, policymakers and civil society are considering the convening of a national-level working group in India to examine how education can promote positive gender norms.

Indeed, gender norms should receive special official focus in education systems, curricula and teacher training.  Students must know the laws and recognize that women are entitled to an equal voice in the home and in society.  Education helps girls and women develop their voice and the capacity to aspire to equality, based on the recognition of themselves as equal persons.  We must include gender education in our core curriculum along with or as part of human rights education.  This inclusion will help reduce one more gender gap—that of limiting the reproduction of inequality across generations—by enabling both boys and girls to examine gendered construction of identities and social norms, the underlying structures that perpetuate inequality and how to unlearn negative and harmful ideas about gender.

In order for gender education to be included in national curricula, it is necessary for ministries of education to approve and initiate a process whereby academics, gender experts, practitioners and educationists can work collaboratively to develop a graded curriculum for gender education, along with related teacher training courses.  Schools provide an opportunity for intellectual discussions about gender roles, responsibilities and resulting power relations, which could help students gain a clearer perspective about what “equality” means in democratic societies.  Making gender education a curricular subject will make the issue “official” and legitimate and create a generation of more egalitarian gender norms.  A concerted effort is required by the international education and development community to influence policy at the country level in this direction.

Strategy #3: Include Men in the Conversation

If there is anything to rejoice and feel hopeful about for women on International Women’s Day, it is the support by men for the movement to better ensure women’s safety and opportunity in India.  Men’s participation is something that all of us, men and women everywhere, should tenaciously hold on to in the fight for gender equality.  We need male champions in every sphere: national politics, business, civil society, in homes and in schools.  We all stand to gain from a society where everyone has a voice. Boys are open and willing to think about the issue seriously: The protests in India were led equally by young men and women.

The inclusion of boys and men in the struggle for gender equality is critical, and women and girls need them as allies.  Women’s education, health, and safety are not “women’s problems” to be dealt with for and by women alone.  Boys must be engaged in serious discussions about the social construction of masculinity and feminity in their contexts with the resulting implications for gender equality.

Strategy #4: Ensure the Next Set of Global Goals Focus on Gender Equality

At the global level, we must all work to ensure that gender continues to play a prominent role in the next set of global development goals.  Whether gender is a cross-cutting issue that runs through all goals, or whether there are one or more goals that deal specifically with gender, the commitment to measuring progress for women and girls and funding policies and programs that improve conditions for women is critical and must be increased.  Goals, metrics and policies should recognize that progress for girls and women over all often masks the lack of progress for large swaths of the female population.  Even when average conditions for women and girls are improving, the situation for those affected by multiple forms of disadvantage, such as extreme poverty, remote location, conflict, disability, domestic abuse, negative gender norms, often remain unchanged.

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