To celebrate International Women’s Day, we invited Trustee Sheila Cannell to write a blog
In 2020, Scottish Love in Action was chosen to be a recipient of the BBC Radio 4 Appeal. To listen to this Appeal, visit https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000g3g7
The Appeal’s broadcast on 8 March 2020, coincided with growing concern about the new disease of coronavirus. Maheshwari’s story highlights 2 years on, the difference in this young woman’s life.
In 2020, the BBC Radio 4 Appeal told the story of Maheshwari – her background in a poor village, and what she learned by attending a camp run by a trusted grassroots partner of ours, VOICE 4 Girls. After the camp, Maheshwari used what she had learnt to tell her father that it was wrong to marry off her older sister – that it was against the law and that her sister should remain at school, and not be married off or become pregnant at an early age. Further, that it would be to the financial benefit of the family for her sister to be educated. Amazingly, her father cancelled the marriage arrangement.
Thanks to the generosity of people like you, the BBC Radio 4 Appeal raised £25,877.
I was always interested to hear what happened next, however disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic meant we were unable to follow up Maheshwari … until now.
In January 2022, when VOICE 4 Girls resumed its in person camps, Maheshwari came running up to see the VOICE 4 Girls team.
Maheshwari now volunteers with VOICE 4 Girls – she is a leader for the girls who have attended its programme in her school. She also runs programmes for girls who didn’t get to attend a camp, using the materials and books, which she received when she herself was on a VOICE 4 Girls camp.
She is now in her twelfth year of school and is preparing for entrance exams to University to study agriculture. She said: “Both my parents are farmers and if I can bring any change, that would mean a lot to me”. While at University, she would like to be a camp counsellor for VOICE 4 Girls, “so that I can give back to the system”.
Maheshwari said the VOICE 4 Girls camps she attended helped her change her perspective on a lot of things – it gave her awareness, broadened her horizons and gave her the courage to stand up for herself and her sister.
On this International Women’s Day, we recognise and salute strong young women like Maheshwari who face systemic discrimination on a daily basis.
Trustee, Scottish Love in Action
Maheshwari (right) with VOICE 4 Girls Executive Director, Anusha Bharadwaj