The Obama Foundation Global Girls Alliance

(audience clapping) – My name is Kiran Sahu, and I am tenth grade
at Prerna Girls School. I played Laxmi Nishad in the film. When we were making the film you just saw I did not
feel like I was acting. I feel like it was my own life. I also lost a parent. In my case, it was my father. I have a brother who can not stand to see me to go to school. He burned my books, uniform, when I was thirteen, and he pulled me out of school five times. But my mother, always with me, and supporting me, and today I can proudly say that much like Laxmi, I am the most educated person in my family. (enthusiastic applause) Thank you. To most people, Prerna is just a school but for me, it has been a home. Every time I forced to leave they always took me back. In Prerna, I have safe space to talk about myself, my life, my problems, my world, and my place in it. I had never talked with anyone about these things before. Not even my mother. My teachers are caring. They listen to me and support me, and this has given me
courage and confidence to take control and change my life. Now, I make my own decisions. Prerna also–
(audience applauds) Prerna also helped me realize that I can be anything I want to be. Education has changed my life. I believe that all girls should
fight to get an education and every school should be like Prerna and support girls. Prerna has given me a dream to be a police officer and I proved that my brother can, that girls can run the world. Thank you.
(audience applauds) – Good morning everyone. My name is Laxmi Nishad and I graduated from Prerna Girls in 2012. This film makes me look my, this film makes me look my
life with fondness and pain. Today I want to share what kept me going. Many girls in my neighborhood did not go to school. I was almost one of them, but even the girls who
did not end up like me, the difference was my school, Prerna. Unlike others, my school cared for me. They cared if I was happy, if I was fed. Even after losing my mother at thirteen, I had a mother in each one of my teacher and most of all, in Du-rish-ianti, who was my mentor and the
leader of the Study Hall Education Foundation which
support young women like me. At the school I was given respect. I learned that my words
carry meaning and power. Education did change my life but not in the traditional sense. It was a kind of education that Prerna gave me truly transform me. While my father sold my
books to buy alcohol, my school taught me to respect myself and fight for my life. It taught me to deserve a home and I have a right to it. I see Kiran, I see how my sister’s life is so different from mine. They all have an education. I see Kiran, she facing similar struggles but also with more aspiration and strength and I grew to share my story with everyone not because I feel that it is unique, but
sadly, because it is not. I hope that my story will give strength to girls around the world. (audience applause) – Good Morning, I’m Urvashi Sahni, the founder of Study Hall
Education Foundation, and the Prerna School. (audience applauds enthusiastically) I didn’t want to be a girl
when I was growing up, and neither did many girls, and it’s not hard to see why. In India most many girls do not feel safe, wanted, free, or equal. Nearly a million girls killed in the womb due to sex-selective abortions, high rates of domestic violence, four rapes an hour, and one-third of the world’s child brides, let’s call them girl-slaves, are in India. Like everyone else, I
believe that education is the solution, which is why I founded the Study Hall Education
Foundation and Prerna School. But I learned in my work with Prerna that though education is
a very powerful social and personally transformative force, it’s not just any kind of education. Education, to be transformative,
must be transformed. We learned in Prerna that if school is to change girls’ lives then
it must provide a safe, caring space and it
must teach girls lessons of equality along with
lessons of math and science. We teach our girls that
they are equal persons deserving respect and
they have the right to a life of their own choosing and thriving. (audience applauds) And it is with these
lessons that you can see that they have navigated,
negotiated and forged a pathway for themselves
and their families through a very inhospitable
and challenging social terrain. We also teach our boys, we started working with them recently, the same lessons of equality. That though patriarchy is not their fault, it does give them more
power and privilege, and it is very cruel to
their sisters, their mothers, and all the women that they care about. So we teach them. (audience applauds) A different way of being good men. And they are working
alongside their sisters, supporting them and fighting
for their rights with them. We are thrilled to be a part
of the Global Girls Alliance, and I know that our teachers, boys, and girls, together, we will build a beautiful, just, fair, peaceful and loving world. Thank you. (audience applauds)

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