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GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT

Her Lens: Girls in India

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GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT

Her Lens: Girls in India

BY STAFF

Student photography project

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My youngest sister coming from school. She loves studying and going to school every day.” In Dali’s community of Verdara, in rural Rajasthan, many families can’t afford to send every child to school, and must choose—often picking the boys. The fact that both Dali and her sister attend regularly shows that attitudes and economics are changing.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My best friends in school.” WE conducted a girls’ empowerment workshop with Dali and the rest of the Grade 8 girls at Verdara Primary School. Twenty teenagers talked about the challenges facing girls in their region and around the world—access to education, household chores that have them missing class, and child marriage. With these additional challenges, they all agreed, it’s important for girls to support and celebrate each other.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My friends in my class are my partners in crime.” Kusum is a Grade 8 student at Verdara Primary School, one of 10 girls selected from our girls’ empowerment workshop to take a camera on loan to capture a day in the life of girls in her community. The goal? To see the world through their eyes. Creating a shot list, the girls chatted excitedly about all the things they would capture: homework! cows! my teacher!

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My teacher gave me a ‘Very Very Good’ on my science project.” When you ask children here what they want to be when they grow up, many young girls say doctors or teachers, noting the lack of education and health care in their communities. They want to do well in science, they say, so that they can help others through medicine, or teach children who are poor. These are the most respected positions in their community, and the professions they know best.

India
India

Laundry hanging on the balcony, typically a chore for girls. Manisha took this photo of her balcony at the tail end of the region’s monsoon season. The lush green trees seen here will go brown in the winter dry season. In a few months, this view will look very different. Girls are also responsible for cooking, collecting water and caring for younger siblings.

India
India

“My mother cutting grass to bring back for the cattle. She will walk very far to get the grass.” Bhavna, 13, is Tribal, part of the region’s indigenous community that has been historically marginalized with poor land offerings and few employment prospects. Animal husbandry is a common source of income for Tribal families, dependent on the welfare of their livestock. Cattle are cherished. Often, it’s easier to take food to the cows than it is to walk the whole herd to the best grasses, so women and girls collect fodder from nearby fields.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“Growing fodder for the cattle.” Nirma, 13, filled her camera with shots of the fields surrounding her house, and her trip to collect grass for her cows.

Cat
Cat

“My house cat, sitting.” Cats are much more common in India than dogs, due to space constraints in smaller homes. Cats are also more independent, and roam free much of the day, only coming back for scraps. Sangeeta, 14, also took shots of her human family, who had a large gathering to celebrate the holiday from school and work.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My buffalo drinking.”

India
India

“Newborn buffalo calf, the newest member of my family.” Livestock are such an integral part of life and livelihoods here that Dali counted this the youngest member of her family.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My friend taking her buffalo for grazing.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My mother. I love her the most.” After a discussion about famous Indian women in history, the girls were asked about the women in their own lives. Many of the girls named their mothers as role models.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My favourite uncle.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My younger brother.”

India
India

“My grandfather and his friend smoking chilam . When there is no work in the farm, they sit together and talk about politics and people.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“Communal gathering where all the men gather at one place and cook food for everyone.” The girls’ workshop was held the day before a school holiday, midway through Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day festival for the Hindu god of good luck. That evening, Sangeeta captured the celebration at home.

India
India

“My mom and her best friend. They hang out together.” Priyanka, 14, came into the girls’ workshop like a typical teenager—over it before it began. After the first icebreaker game, which had the girls choosing their favourite foods and Bollywood stars, she loosened up. The next day, Priyanka handed in some beautiful portraits of her family and home life.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My neighbour going home after washing clothes.” Without washing machines at home, women will take buckets of clothes to the river and beat the stains out of them. Once clean, they might lay the clothes out flat on riverbed rocks, warm from the sun. Or they might carry a bucket of wet clothes back home to hang on laundry lines.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My sister fetching water for cleaning the dishes. This is one of the chores me and my sister have to do at home.”

India
India

“My younger brother drinking water from the hand pump.” Access to clean water in Rajasthan is a challenge. Being a desert state, there’s little groundwater and, outside of monsoon season, almost no rain. WE Villages installs hand pumps, like these, as part of our clean water projects. Hand pumps are centrally located on school campuses to ensure equal access for surrounding residents.

India
India

“My neighbour fetching water from the well and kids playing in the background.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“This is a traditional well, a rahat (Persian Wheel). This is where I get my water.”

India
India

“My sister cleaning the dishes.”

India
India

“My younger siblings.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My brother sitting at my house doorstep.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“Me plucking grass for my cattle.”

India
India

“My friend carrying fodder for cattle. Usually, me and her go together to get fodder.” Walking to get water or cattle feed, girls often travel together to make the journey safer.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

Stone statues outside Sangeeta’s home.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“The little one in the picture is my youngest cousin and he’s also the youngest member in my family.” Multigenerational households are the norm. Often, children will introduce themselves by talking about how many people live at their home, taking care to mention the eldest and youngest members to give a sense of their family dynamics.

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My older brother at home.”

Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.
Left: Students graduating at Kisaruni. Right: Milcah Chepkirui.

“My bicycle, which I take to school every day.”