Why Women and Girls?
Age-old customs restrict Indian women in rural, poor areas to their homes. Kitchens are assigned as their only place of work and there are few economic opportunities outside of the home to alleviate their crushing poverty. Even if a women works outside of her home she is paid at least 20% less than a man and may not claim rights over her earnings, considering them to be the property of her husband. It is common for a woman to be ignorant of her rights and through generations of conditioning, women have come to accept this subjugation by men as inevitable. They are victims of sexual harassment and often suffer inhuman tortures perpetrated by husbands, in-laws and even parents. Please click on this link to view a video about the challenges facing women and girls in India.
Invest in Girls
Investing in girls makes sense because a girl with seven or more years of education will have fewer and healthier children, educate her own children, contribute more money to her household and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However, many girls are not educated in rural India because they are not considered worthy of an education or extreme poverty forces their parents to pull them out of school to work in the fields or to care for younger siblings. Furthermore, girls are married off at the earliest possible age to protect her virtue and to reduc e the financial burden on her family.
Supporting Social Outcasts
NISHTHA runs two programs aimed at supporting the most vulnerable of society: widows and the children of sex workers. In poor, rural areas of India, a woman is completely dependent on her husband. If she is widowed, she is at the mercy of her relatives and many elderly women are tossed out of their homes without the means to support themselves. NISHTHA provides for more than 250 elderly women with livelihood stipends and support groups. They also work to raise community awareness about the social and economic challenges faced by the elderly, to restore the people's respect for them, and to rescue these hapless women from abuse and neglect. Learn how NISHTHA supports destitute widows.
A Way Out
NISHTHA operates a night shelter and day school for the children of sex workers in the red light district of Kolkata. These children live in the worst conditions and have little opportunity to break the cycle of poverty, prostitution, and HIV/AIDS transmission. With the opportunity of education and literacy, as well as vocational support from NISHTHA, these children have a chance to create a life for themselves outside of the bleak and dangerous conditions of the brothel.
Learn about how NISHTHA is preventing the trafficking of disadvantaged girls in West Bengal.