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BY- Nisreen Ahadersha

"Pen is mightier than the sword", a famous phrase repeated and taught over times

immemorial, phrased by English author Edward Lytton. This phrase, despite being a

constant reminder that education overpowers and can do what violence can only dream

to fulfill, is somehow overshadowed in our community. And more often than not, it is

only an obstruction when a girl is in question. Education is a paltry dream for more than a quarter of the Indian population and sadly the major constituent of that quarter are females, daughters of our nation, the future backbone and shade to our country, India.

Sushma, a 15-year-old Madhya Pradesh native is yet another victim of the poison that has

spread far and wide in our society, a stain that distinguishes girls from boys. She had moved to the big city of Delhi. When asked whether the city was better than her village in MP she was in inner turmoil. "There are things in the city that are not in my village", she said. And among those many things is that the city offers her enough space to widen her wings and nurture them, it would one day in the long run help her fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. She's a girl with big dreams, coming from a modest background. With big dreams come great responsibilities and also many obstacles in her path, each to be cleared with great determination and care.

Many girls who surround her life had been forced to or asked to drop out of school, which

they did, gladly or not, we are not certain. But what demarcates our brave girl from the others is that she did not oblige. She educated herself and got enrolled in school. Despite being brought up in a society where girls were prevented from outside and exploring the world, she became a rebel who got herself admitted to the school and stayed adamant that she studied. During the time of the worldwide pandemic, in spite of school being erratic, she did not give in and marched forth towards her goal, way ahead of her.

In many ways, Sushma has become a self-taught advocate on girl empowerment and towards educating girls. Being part of a society where girls are considered a burden, young Sushma has braved more difficulties than your average 15-year-olds. Instead of following the usual custom and obeying her parents will confine her to her home and is reluctant to see her outside the four walls of her house, Sushma carved out an example to feed the future generations by ignoring the medieval ways her parents' minds worked and brought out the need of the hour, education, onto herself. And it's not just herself, she is not one to be selfish.

Despite living through many restrictions, she makes sure that her sister, Nancy knows that her parent’s words aren't the final one. As long as she has the will to pursue her dreams, her parents are no one to halt her in her tracks. Indirectly, Sushma has already started molding younger kids, girls specifically to stand out in our society and break the norms that are followed without any objections.

She isn’t asking anyone to be unruly or disobey their parents unnecessarily, she has given a

solid reason to her stance in this case. She needed an education that was barred to her, and she needed to achieve her dreams, this left her one option. She had to choose one. Either listen to her parents and stay in a bubble until she was married off or do the unthinkable and go against her parent's will and enroll in school herself. Well, we all know what she did.

The fact that a large part of our society has stereotyped women to have a prejudiced version

that they have to follow despite all their dreams weighing them down creates an internal conflict of whether to listen or to follow. All preconceived thoughts about education leading women to live a "westernized", unconventional life and luring them out of the standard and ideal form of women, a stay-at-home mother and a wife, a pre-made doll made sure to be subjected to all forms of constraints, chains holding her down. Girls at a young age have a prejudiced system etched into their minds.

But let's not forget that gone are the days when girls sit still, with their heads bowed down, nodding silently to their future being discussed and not letting their minds speak. Now, our girls have started to rebel. They have started understanding the value and worth of education. They know that they can fend for themselves with the power that comes with education. Sushma has a word of advice for her peers, "Don't ever give up on school! And don't listen to your parents who are discouraging you from studies".

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