COVID-19 Gender Equality Karuna Projects

“We fear going hungry more than we fear the virus. How can we survive without money?” – Shamina’s Story

The COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent school closures has meant millions of girls living in India and Nepal, like Shamina (pictured above), are blocked from receiving the education they fought so hard to access, putting them at risk of child marriage, trafficking and abuse. Despite huge progress in gender equality and education, the historic challenges that girls and young women have traditionally faced are returning because of the pandemic. 

At 14, Shamina (name changed) is proud to be a leader of a girls’ group established in the slums of Pune giving girls a sense of agency and collective power in their community. Two of her sisters were married young – but Shamina was lucky. Being part of a Karuna project that supported girls’ education meant that Shamina could fiercely stand up against her own marriage and fight for her right to an education. But now, with her father and mother out-of-work due to the pandemic, the risk of not completing her education is stronger than ever. 

Shamina portrait
Shamina at a Karuna project Pune

“I am missing my school, friends, and teachers so much. My father is saying we need to work harder now because we lost whatever we had. I was very worried about how I can help my family to come out of this situation. We fear going hungry more than we fear the virus. How can we survive without money?”

We know that life for families like Shamina’s is only going to get harder as the COVID crisis continues into next year. Education – particularly girl’s education – is simply not going to be a priority for the family when their very survival is under threat. 

That’s why our focus is to support families so that they don’t have to choose between survival and their daughters’ future.

To learn more visit:

Shamina Studying
Shamina studying at home with her family

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