Girls in India generally have far fewer educational opportunities than boys. We feel that this is not only unfair to the girls and women themselves, but also to the entire society. As girls become mothers and supporters of their family (working in the home, or out in the larger community), they carry a very large burden of responsibility; but they also have the seeds of potential to make great changes for the better in their world.
We believe that educating the female population benefits all areas of society. A well educated woman can support herself and her family more easily. Research indicates that when women earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man. The more schooling a woman has, the higher her earning potential becomes. She also becomes a role model for other girls and women, even those who have not had access to school.
An educated woman has the skills and resources to take care of her own health and the health of those around her; research in developing countries has shown a consistent relationship between better infant and child health and higher levels of schooling among mothers. Girls in the developing world who receive seven or more years of education are found to marry four years later than her less schooled counterparts, and have fewer children. A survey in India, focusing on the Bihar area, indicated that girls who marry before the age of 18 are twice as likely to be abused by their husbands as girls who marry later. Also, women under the age of 20 are two to five times more likely to die in childbirth than those 20 or over. Medical complications from pregnancy are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 worldwide.
An educated woman is able to pass on her skills and learning to others, teaching her own children to read and write even if formal schooling is not an option. She becomes an empowered and highly contributing member of her community; someone who respects herself and therefore receives respect as her due. And all the skills, knowledge, sense of self-worth and respect are shared (as women have always shared) with those around her – to the ultimate betterment of society.
As well as sharing all the educational opportunities of their male counterparts at the schools supported by the Bodhi Tree Educational Foundation, girls are also offered instruction in areas that are specific for their culture. Courses about nutrition, basic first aid, home health care for pregnancy and childbirth, ways to teach both children and other women the knowledge they themselves have gained – information aimed at expanding the influence of the education and care we offer, and making learning self-replicating and naturally growing.
The Bodhi Tree Educational Foundations goal is to support a strong community by supporting women in their roles as students, mothers, teachers, wage earners and empowered self-realized people.