In cities across India, thousands of men, women and children are living in slums, on the streets or in rural areas without access to adequate sanitation facilities and a safe place to sleep.
Trapped in a brutal cycle of poverty, these millions of children and adults are also denied the right to an education. With children pushed into child labour and parents unable to afford school fees, gaining an education often be impossible.
In fact, over a third of the world’s illiterate population are based in India, where a staggering 266 million people cannot read or write. More than two-thirds of adults across India are illiterate, whilst almost one out of two children in India do not attend secondary school.
For women and girls especially, barriers to accessing education are even more difficult to overcome, with socio-cultural norms placing a high burden of care work on females in the family. With girls in low-income families vulnerable to sexual exploitation and early/forced marriage, such women and girls risk a lifetime of abuse.
This is where access to education and work is critical in helping people break out of the crucial cycle of poverty and build safer, brighter futures for everyone.
Islamic Relief: Helping widows in need
When we met Juli for example, she had moved to Delhi with her husband in search of a better life. They had no land and few work opportunities in their native village.
However, fate took a fatal turn. Juli’s husband later died and Juli ended up on the streets of Delhi with her six children. They’d been living rough for a staggering eight years, in desperate need of support. Here, because Juli did not have any identity documents, she was frequently also targeted by police who would tell her to go elsewhere and often robbed of her savings and belongings.
Here at Islamic Relief, we support vocational training programmes for women and children so they can gain the skills to earn a living. We also implement an education programme in Uttar Pradesh, to give individuals the best chance of building a brighter future.
What’s more, our social safety net project is also working with highly vulnerable street children and women, providing livelihood support, shelter and health care to enable vulnerable locals to lead a safer happier life.