The dynamics
of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the country are changing – the unfocused
charities are becoming ‘seed funds’ for practical social programmes, the social
organizations are conceptualizing scalable development programmes, and then
there is this new law…

With an
aim to have a clearer glimpse into thoughts that are in the minds of individuals
who are playing an important role in this process of ‘dynamic change’ as well
as to hear out their stories about change, CauseBecause is speaking to them and
publishing their responses to a common thread of questions.

Here’s a
conversation from the first lot of the series – called ‘Conversations around
CSR’ – with Safeena Husain, founder and executive director of Educate
Girls

Keeping in view the areas mandated as part of
CSR, how does it impact your organization’s focus and investment?
 

As a donor-funded organization, Educate
Girls is hopeful that the CSR mandate will encourage the private sector in
India to invest more in the social sector. At the same time, we will look to
the private sector not only for funding but also for their technical support,
expertise and opportunities to share our work with the broader community. As an
organization, we are actively exploring these possibilities and trying to
understand how we can best partner with the corporate and private sector.

 

What will be the impact, if any, on the NGOs or
social enterprises (you engage with) and the communities/causes they
support?
 

It remains to be seen how the CSR
mandate will impact the NGO community, including Educate Girls’ partners. However,
Educate Girls will continue to focus on the cause of improving education
outcomes for out-of-school girls. This has been our focus since the
organization was founded in 2007 and we will continue to focus on this area.

 

Are the projects currently implemented by your
organization ‘sustainable’? To the extent possible, do elaborate upon the
complexities.

Sustainability is at the core of Educate
Girls’ work. Our model is designed to increase the level of community ownership

and engagement with the education system. We rely on existing community
structures and resources to achieve impact in the communities in which we work.
Educate Girls does not directly deliver services, but fosters awareness about
the value of girls’ education and builds the capacity of the community to understand
and advocate for improvements in their schools.

As a result, we do not create
dependency on Educate Girls; instead, we provide communities with the tools to
make improvements to the existing public education/school system so that it
fosters an enabling environment for girls’ education. 

 

Please share the journey of one project
implemented by your organization, with focus on its impact at the grassroots.

There have been many stories of Educate
Girls’ programme and its impact on girls, their families as well as communities.
One such story is of Sharda, a resident of Devalipabuji village in Rani Block (Rajasthan).
Sharda is a 15-year-old child bride born in a family with five children. She
was married at the age of four. According to the custom, she had to stay with
her parents until she reached puberty. After only a handful of years in school,
Sharda had to drop out due to financial difficulties. It was during this time
that the Child Tracking Survey identified her and a volunteer from Educate
Girls met her family.

With an Educate Girls representative guiding and
supporting her, Sharda expressed her desire to finish her education. With our
support, she successfully re-enrolled and is now in 8th standard. The happier
and confident child is also the head of her school’s Bal Sabha (girls’ council).
The first person in her family to receive any education, Sharda’s aim now is to
study further and not move to her husband’s house. Her aim is to change the
perspective of the entire community.

 

Since 2007, Educate Girls has brought
more than 52,000 girls like Sharda back to school and has improved quality of
schools for over 500,000 children.

One insightful thought, experience or
learning that you will like to share with your counterparts as well as other
individuals in the causes domain.

Community’s culture and societal
traditions, like in the case of Sharda, are believed to be the factors that
encourage child marriage, poor education, and these are also the reasons for poverty
not just in Rajasthan but across India. It is a common notion that communities that
believe in such traditions are the real problem.

At Educate Girls, we believe
that the same communities also hold the solutions to the challenges they face. We
work within the dynamics of these communities and focus on awareness, training
and support that result in changing the perspective. Our efforts make traditional
communities the initiators of the desired impact. Educate Girls empowers the communities
to be the drivers of change. Educate Girls’ model has been at the forefront of
ushering in communities-led solutions for improving girls’ education.

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