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February 01, 2024 | Piramal Foundation

Crossroads of Destiny: Meena's journey vs. Seema's plight. Let's empower choices, and shape futures.

Meena and Seema, two young women from the same village. This is a story of their journey marked by significant choices and their consequences.

At the age of 5, Meena and Seema started their education. However, their paths diverged at the age of 12. Due to the prevailing social stigma surrounding girls' education, Seema was compelled to quit school, while Meena continued her studies. Along with studies, she gained awareness of menstrual hygiene which helped her navigate the new phase of her life.

By the time they reached 15, Meena's mother, who was a Sarpanch had a vision for her daughter. She believed that beyond the school curriculum, Meena should expand her horizons. She enrolled Meena in a computer course. On the other hand, Seema, unfortunately, faced a very different fate as her parents arranged her marriage at that tender age. While Meena went for her weekly computer classes, Seema’s parents got her married paying a hefty amount of dowry.

As an after effect of child marriage, Seema's health deteriorated. By the age 20 she experienced two miscarriages before giving birth to an underweight child. At the same time, Meena found a new way to drive her future. She joined the Karuna Fellowship, which gave her an opportunity to nurture her self-confidence. Meena thrived with the mentorship she received during the fellowship and began supporting students in accessing digital education.

In stark contrast, Seema remained ignorant of the benefits of proper nutrition for a lactating mother. She was unaware of proper nutrition for herself and her child, locked in a cycle of suffering. Anaemia continued to plague her, and she found herself pregnant again, unaware of her options for seeking the right kind of help.

As they reached the age of 23, Meena, driven by her newfound determination, decided to prepare for a government job. Meanwhile, Seema welcomed her second child but suffered both physically and mentally. The ill-treatment from her in-laws for giving birth to another baby girl was taking a toll on her mental health. The weight of societal expectations pressed heavily on her, causing her to internalize the notion that she was guilty of having daughters.

By the time they turned 25, Meena achieved her dream of becoming a teacher in a primary school, helping shape young minds with her knowledge. In contrast, Seema drowned into the cycle of ignorance. She started seeking guidance from a religious guru to assist her daughter with anaemia, rather than going to a doctor.

This story serves as a reflection of the importance of choice and the impact it has on one's life. Meena's mother's support and guidance provided her with the opportunity to shape her destiny, while Seema was trapped in a cycle of restricted choices and consequent hardships. The narrative underscores the necessity of empowering women in these villages to make choices, foster respect for those choices within the community, and work toward changing prevailing behaviours, allowing all women the chance to determine their own futures.


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