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A book that strikes a chord in women, who will find a part of it echoing in their own life, irrespective of the society segment they belong to, says Swetha Amit about Because I am a girl: Seven girls seven lives

Authors:  Introduction by Govind Nihalani

Anjum Hasan, Shahana Goswami, Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, Pooja Bedi, Aditi Rao Hydari, Nafisa Ali, Namrita Bachchan

Publisher: Random House India

Price: Rs299

Classification: Non-fiction

Women empowerment has always been a prickly issue across the world, particularly so in developing countries such as India. It is disturbing to note the alarming rate at which female foeticide is growing in our country. It is one of the reasons that Plan India -- a leading child rights NGO -- took up the initiative to highlight the stories of girl children from different communities across rural India. Because I am a girl: Seven girls seven lives is a collection of stories, written by prominent personalities from various fields, of seven young women who brave hardships to make a living, but stand up resilient and hopeful against life’s challenges.

After a brief introduction by Govind Nihalani, the book starts off with a story of a protagonist whose family is from a community near Rajasthan which compels their daughters to join the flesh trade. The second tale is about a school dropout who has aspirations of starting her own parlour. The third story talks about a girl who migrates to the city in search of a job. The fourth narrates the life of a woman trying to save her unborn girl child. The fifth is about a widow training to be a nurse. The valiant attempts of a girl working in a vegetable market to be a soldier forms the sixth narrative. And the last story describes the life of a girl who works as a rag picker after losing her family to the raging Brahmaputra floods.

The stories are written in a simple yet sensitive style. Each tale gives a glimpse into the life of a young woman from rural India and struggles unique to their way of life. What comes shining through is the ‘never say die’ spirit of each girl. An inspirational read which will strike an emotional chord with the readers.

Perhaps there is no greater sense of triumph than by one achieved by a disadvantaged individual through an intense struggle for her dignity and livelihood against a hostile social and economic background.

The Realization dawned on me as I got progressively involved, six years ago, with the work being done by Plan India with disadvantaged children and their communities on various aspects of their lives.

Plan India has programmes that focus on issues related to the girl child. And because I am a girl is one of its major initiatives. In the process of implementing Because I am a girl across several states of the country, the Plan India teams came across many inspiring stories of courageous young girls who challenged their circumstances and through sheer determination and unrelenting effort, rose above them. This book presents a selection of seven such stimulating stories.

These are stories of young girls who make a conscious decision to take the risk and initiate the effort to change the claustrophobic situation of their current lives, to break free of the shackles of tradition and taboos that restrain their natural growth, to push open the doors of their dark rooms, to emerge in the sunlight to claim the freedom and opportunity which is theirs. The outcome in each case is positive and uplifting but always tempered with humility, hope and resilience. One important milestone in almost all the stories though is a stage in the journey when the struggling protagonist comes in contact with an initiative of Plan India and the positive turn her struggle takes thereafter. These are the stories of empowerment through right knowledge and guidance provided by Plan India through its various outreach programmes.

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