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India
A Bridge That Brings Teenage Girls Closer To Schooling
Kulsum Mustafa

Meet Soni, Ruby, Aruna and Shabbo, who used to spend their days poring over embroidery stitches apart from doing household chores to “help out” their parents, but have since then rediscovered themselves and their life’s purpose. What has filled these teenagers, who had resigned themselves to their fate of “zindagi bhar ka kaam (a lifetime of work)”, with new energy and enthusiasm? It’s a Residential Bridge Course for ‘out of school’ girls in Uttar Pradesh, where evocative poetry is taught through group recitation, pebbles and stones and sticks are used to solve complex math problems and where leadership and life-skills are an integral part of an innovative curricula.

Soni's father Jaichand turns emotional when he comes to meet her at the centre. “I cannot believe this smart young girl is my own timid Soni, I am happy she took this step,” says her father.

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDI617R 1000 words


India
Showing Special Children How To Learn And Earn
Naunidhi Kaur

Shilpa Arora became a teacher to impart knowledge as well as guide and empower youngsters to realise their dreams and ambitions. Today, though, she is inspired by the determination and hard work of her very special students. Arora heads a school for children battling with physical and mental disorders, such as Down's Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Autism, and it’s their never-say-die attitude and disarming smiles that drive her to become a better educator and be proud of her profession. Focused on empowering differently-abled children Arora and her team, comprising 25 trained teachers, a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, psychiatrists and a dedicated group of helpers as well as volunteers, assist the young ones in covering regular school work, while those in the 15 to 17 age group are given vocational training that helps them earn as they learn.

“Some of the children here are really artistic. So we want to tap into their strength and give them the added confidence of making money.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDK511R 1200 words


Global
A Girl With A Book Is Truly Powerful
Elayne Clift

History is replete with unnamed multitudes of women denied an education. In medieval times, for instance, women who were unmarriageable or considered unruly were shunted off to convents. But there they found a haven free from subservience and perpetual childbearing, a place where they could read, write, discuss ideas – until the men in power realised how dangerous that was, and banned them from such activities in favour of religious devotion and endless embroidery. Yet, here’s what we know about the value of girls’ education: it is central to a country’s development and improvement because it has a direct, proven impact on reproductive and child health, economic growth, environmental sustainability and national productivity. Today, although there are over 65 million girls out of school, fortunately, a new generation of young women, and men, represented by Malala Yousafzai, is geared to “fight for the rights of women, children who deserve a shot at education” that ensures a voice, agency and most importantly, a good life.

In poor countries, 60 per cent of the present population is under 25 years of age. Without children’s rights, including access to education, how are we going to realise global peace and development?

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: QQQNA28R 800 words


Kazakhstan
Metro Girl Gulzhan Can Work Better Than Male Engineers

Sifting through the darkness, she measures the distance between the rails on Kazakhstan’s first subway system, the Almaty Metro. Donning heavy boots and other protective gear she spends most of her day in the dingy tunnels as she diligently goes about working on her latest engineering project. Gulzhan Kokbayeva, 27, is the only woman engineer on the team working on the first subway system in Kazakhstan, a country known for housing the first space launch complex in the world, the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Perhaps living in close proximity to some of the greatest scientific minds of her country stimulated her interest in this tough discipline and motivated her to prove that women’s contributions to the economy can also come from scientific professions. But while graduating with a Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Underground Construction just six years ago was the easy part, securing a job and proving her competency in a totally male-dominated profession was not. However, never backing down from the challenge at hand, today she has not only gained the respect and trust of male colleagues, but has established herself as a valuable professional and become a role model for other young women. In this one-on-one Kokbayeva talks about being a fearless career woman and getting used to the extremely “uncomfortable and bulky” uniform!

“At staff meetings where the majority of participants were male, they used to use foul language. But after a while they learnt to work with me.”

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: KAZO817 900 words


India
Yo-Yo Diets Can’t Promise Health

Which woman has not been tempted to try out the next new diet that hits the trendmill? If a few years back it was the GM, Atkins or South Beach Diet that had everyone hooked, today it’s the Bulletproof Diet, The 90 Day SSS (Shape, Shift and Sustain) and The High Fat Diet (yes, you read right!) that have emerged as the new favourites. Whether these hip food fads are truly effective is a question no one has really been able to answer yet, but if you were to ask celebrity fitness expert Leena Mogre for advice on the best way to get into shape then she would definitely recommend “substituting good food for bad food and combining that with appropriate physical activity”. After all, diet might help you drop the kilos but you will definitely have a tough time keeping them off. An excerpt from ‘Total Fitness – The Leena Mogre Way’, published by Random House, has more on the ‘good fad-bad fad’ phenomenon.

‘You should want to eat good food, should love the good food you eat, be disciplined to eat in moderation.’

[Photographs Available]

 WFS Ref: INDO818 1000 words
 
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