Nun empowers Northern India's women with education
March 17, 2014
Sister Daphne Sequeira, who works with the Torpa Development Society for Women, has dedicated her life offering literacy and life skills classes to women and girls who have been denied an education in Northern India's remote villages.
The Sister of the Sacred Heart was invited to the Vatican to share her experience at a Voices of Faith event celebrating the work of women in the Church on March 9.
“Education is important, but it is significantly important to women, because we all know that when a woman is educated, when a girl child is educated, there’s a ripple effect. She is the one who nurtures the child when he is growing. She's the one for all practical purposes, who manages the household,” said Sister Sequeira.
“Despite India's good programs and good policies for education, such as the government's decision in 2012 to offer free education for girls, there is no conducive environment, and there is also no mechanism to implement all these things,” explained Sister Sequeira, who has been striving for many years to empower women in rural India through education and micro-?nancing of small businesses.
“While her brothers are being educated and her parents have gone to the field to work, the girl is left behind to manage the household chores.”
Sister Sequeira works hard to change this cultural norm. By offering women a basic education, she finds that they have “an instrument of empowerment, to their family, to the community, and to the society.”
The results of Sister Sequeira’s efforts are tangible and widespread. She shared her experience in a remote village where she began classes for illiterate women three years ago.
For eight months, the women were taught alphabet and numbers, monetary notes, how to read bank books, and how to write accounts. They were also exposed to government documents and instructed in how to fill out a government application.
“The whole life in that village changed. These women started attending the village meetings and bring up any important issue that is being ignored,” said Sister Sequeira.
“In the past three years, these women have motivated 600 women for this literacy program… In all the 12-13 villages where the women are educated, the whole life changed. Their exploitation minimized, relationships improved and the health status of family is better. The important thing is that every child from this village now is going to school.”
Sister Sequeira expressed hope that the Church, which is working really selflessly in the corners of the nation where government has not reached, can continue offering help to women and through them to the wider society.
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