Shabnam, a 16-year-old girl from Balrampur, Lucknow, had never dreamt of visiting America, but as destiny would have it, the opportunity came to her last November when Shabnam was chosen as the Indian representative at the “Woman of the Year 2015” event organised by the Glamour magazine, New York.
Her selection was part of the international “The Girl Project” of Glamour magazine as the story of her struggle to acquire basic education was one that many could relate to.
Shabnam, who could never study in a regular public school and only attended a madrasa, had to drop out since her family did not allow her to continue studying. After she was identified in an enrolment drive conducted by the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), her family still didn’t support her education and Shabnam decided to run away from home to join KGBV in 2010. Shabnam’s father is a labourer. She has two elder sisters and two brothers. Both her sisters were married off at the age of 15. “Her family wasn’t willing to send her to a school. Financial crisis was a major roadblock. She wanted to study after Class X, but there was no money and the higher secondary school was too far from her home,” said a CARE official. CARE India reached Shabnam through the KGBV programme. CARE, an international NGO, is also a partner with Glamour’s “The Girl Project”, an international initiative by the fashion magazine to create educational opportunities for young girls around the world.
But even after her trip to the US, Shabnam said that she does not have access to quality education. “I got to learn a lot from my trip. It would have been meaningful if Glamour had spent the money to help me get further studies from a big school in the city,” said Shabnam.