Girl Star Project
Press Releases
Girl Star Project

Despite a major improvement in literacy rates in India over the past decade, the number of children who are not in school remains high.  Gender disparities in education persist with far more girls than boys failing to complete primary school.

The national literacy rate of girls over seven years is 54% against 75% for boys.  In the Northern Hindi-speaking states of India, girls literacy rates are particularly low, ranging between 33 – 50%. 

Although lower primary schools are within one kilometer of 94 percent of India’s population, at an average every second girl child in India has not been enrolled.  While the enrolment rate is high in urban areas, it is conspicuously low in rural areas and amongst the backward and minority communities.  The disparity is also regional with higher literacy rate across the Southern and North-Eastern states, but very low in some of the most densely populated Northern states .   In Uttar Pradesh, the most populated state in India with a population of 172 million (larger than that of Brazil which ranks the fourth most populated country in the world) an average of only one out of four girls is enrolled in the upper primary school. Amongst the marginalized communities in the state of Bihar, the situation is far worse where only one out of every six girls is literate. The national average shows that there are twice as many illiterate women as there are men. 

UNICEF, NGOs and other bilateral agencies have partnered government efforts to improve literacy levels in states that have the largest numbers of out-of-school children or dropouts, with a focus on girls of marginalized and minority communities which have the highest levels of illiteracy.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyhan programme for universalisation of primary education and the Mahila Samakhya programme which has set up alternative learning centres for imparting education and providing empowering skills to girls from disadvantaged communities, are among the major initiatives to improve literacy levels.

The “Girl Star”  project is a series of films which documents stories of  girls from the most disadvantaged communities across  five Northern states who, through attaining education, have managed to break the shackles of socio-economic constraints to make a success of their lives and become self sufficient.  These young women have grown to become role models in their communities, who inspire younger girls to go to school and continue their education. They have selected professions from the most conventional such as teaching and nursing, to the most unconventional like archery, bee-keeping, scrap management, often entering what has traditionally been a man’s domain.

The selection of characters for the films is from ordinary rural settings which the masses can identify with.  These short films will be used as a tool at different levels : to motivate parents to ensure that their daughters go to school and do not drop out, to enthuse girls to attend school, to generate a demand within the community for quality education .  The films will also be used to influence policy and mobilise resources.

Celebrating Girl Power
Such stories of courage and determination unfolded at the ‘Navjyoti’ programme organised on 22nd November 2007 in Mumbai. Navjyotis are girls who have dared to dream.

Teaching a different lesson
Unperturbed by the hot May sun, Rekha Sahu, a primary school teacher in Khajuraho Bujurg village, in the Babina block of Jhansi district, was excited because her long wait to have a glimpse of the Girl Stars was going to end soon.

Girl stars twinkle in UP’s dusty villages
They are the “real stars”, who attract crowds, applause and rave reviews for their achievements in the most remote of Uttar Pradesh’s villages. Perhaps also because they make almost everyone believe that dreams can come true.

'Girl Stars' a huge hit in Bihar Villages
As the tastefully decorated pink colored 'Girls Star' truck winds its way along the narrow lanes of Kandwa village raising a trail of dust, scores of children , their eyes wide open in amazement run behind it.

When stars came visiting
Stars are busy people. Girl stars are no different. During the two days that twelve of them spent in the capital city of New Delhi, they had places to go, people to meet, campaigns to launch and questions to answer.

This recess belonged to the future
As the heat on the discussions on “fake encounters” subsided on May 08, the Speaker, Somnath Chatterjee and his team of senior officials decided to invest their time in listening to 12 genuine women achievers otherwise known as Girl Stars.

Bihar's Girl Stars are Shining Lights for Others
These girls were born in families that found it hard to make the ends meet. Girls of their background did not go to school, leave alone have a career.

Girl Stars of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka – 2006
Such stories of courage and determination unfolded at the ‘Navjyoti’ programme organised on 22nd November 2007 in Mumbai. Navjyotis are girls who have dared to dream.

Tehseen Bano, Girls’ Hostel Warden
Tehseen works as a girls’ hostel warden in Kasturba Gandhi Girls School (Balika Vidyalaya) in Guruwa, Gaya district, Bihar.

Lalita, karate teacher
Lalita, a tenacious young woman who has overcome great barriers because of her place as a female in the lowest caste in India, teaches a karate class to other young girls at Mahila Shikshan Kendra.

Sandhya Sherring, computer trainer
Sandhya Sherring is a computer trainer and she owns her own computer institute where she teaches children about computers.

Madhuri Kumari, Village Leader
Madhuri Kumari is a village ‘Pradhan’, an elected village leader in Fakirpuri village, Bahraich District, Uttar Pradesh.

Shabnam Aara, Small Loans Manager
Shabnam Aara is a small loans manager in Cashpor a micro-finance organization in Benares, Uttar Pradesh.

Kiran Devi, Junkyard Dealer
Kiran Devi is a junkyard dealer and serial entrepreneur; Kiran lives in Patna, Bihar.

Anita Khushwaha, Beekeeper
Anita Khushwaha is a beekeeper in Bochaha village, Muzzafarpur district, Bihar. When Anita was young her parents did not want her to go to school, they asked Anita to look after the goats instead of going to school.

Bhauri Malavat, Police Constable
Bhauri Malavat is a police constable in Bikaner District, Rajasthan.

Anuradha Rathore, Medical Student
Anuradha Rathore is studying medicine in Jodhpur Medical College, Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

Durga Bai, Healthworker
Durga Bai is a health worker with Aarth in the tribal belt of Udaipur District, Rajasthan.

Krishna Bagel, Government Primary School Teacher
Krishna Bagel is a primary school teacher in a Government School in Tikaria Village, Mandla District, Madhya Pradesh.

Roopali Jain ‘Ruby’, Beauty Parlour Owner
Roopali Jain ‘Ruby’ owns a beauty parlour in Guna, Madhya Pradesh.

Premlata Verma, Accountant
Premlata Verma is an accountant in the office of the Superintendent of Police in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh.

Jyoti Rose Tirkey, Newsreader, Radio presenter & Folk-singer
Jyoti Rose Tirkey is a newsreader with Doordarshan (a TV channel in India with the highest viewership).

Laxmirani Majhi, Archer
Laxmirani Majhi is an archer who competes in international level competitions for India.

Suryamani Bhagat, Forest Activist
Suryamani Bhagat is an activist with ‘Save the forests of Jharkhand movement’; she is the founder of ‘Torang’ a tribal rights and cultural center in Kotari Village, Ranchi district in Jharkhand.

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