Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What girls can be

'My brothers, they will study. They can hope for different things. What
can I be?'

So concludes Mary Jordan's poignant page 1 story from the Washington Post. The speaker is Jyotsna Patadia, 15. Like the girls at left depicted at Oxfam's website, Jyotsna is consigned to work in western India's "salt pans." She lives alone in a hut at the pans, a 7-hour walk from her home village. The money she earns helps to support her family -- including her younger brother, who enjoys "electricity, a television, plenty of water, cousins dropping by," and going to school.
Jordan writes that Jyotsna's story is familiar

in much of the developing world, and particularly South Asia. In India, half the women older than 15 are illiterate, twice the rate for men, and millions of poor girls are pulled out of school to help at home, often when they are 10 to 12 years old.

This is another tide whose turning is overdue.

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