Seven years ago, the World Bank upgraded India to a middle-income country, and in the same year, India passed its Right to Education Act (RTE) that guaranteed a free and compulsory education for all children from ages 6-14. The current dropout rate is at 40% and consists primarily of girls, who are often from low castes or rural areas. For Shinjini Das, an American of Indian descent, this issue is personal. "This statistic is beyond unacceptable. An education affords girls the ability to gain knowledge to architect the lives of their dreams, and until each and every girl has access to an education, we function as an under-utilized society."
Das lived in Asia until she was 9 and then moved to the States. She credits her family for fully championing her education. "I grew up understanding that there was no limit to my education or career aspirations. For my parents, education was a guaranteed path to greater edification as well as intellectual, personal and professional fulfillment."
With their blessing, Das studied engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. It was there that she began to look around and see the void of women in STEM. So, she began to talk about it in order to bring more awareness to topics around women, education and self-improvement. Her mission and message caught the attention of Usher's New Look Foundation where she became a motivational speaker and brand ambassador. "I am an extremely self-empowered woman, and seek to teach girls around the world the great power of nurturing our resplendent light from within through my talks, articles, and interviews."
As Das continued to focus on empowering women and shedding light on uncomfortable subjects that road-block the education of girls worldwide, the UN took notice and named her as 1 of 16 global heroes by Together for Girls, a United Nations Partnership. As a global hero, Shinjini has been invited to moderate a panel at UN Women's Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City next week, and will also serve as a Together for Girls Ambassador.
Says Das, "I am incredibly inspired by the UN's commitment to empower women and move the needle on policies to enable women worldwide to experience lives to their fullest potential. Looking towards the future, I hope to grow my relationship with the UN, and collaborate to advocate change on a variety of other causes that we champion, including one of UN's Global Goals, to ensure quality education for all." Das included a few ways to follow the UN's example and get more involved in the movement for girls education:
1. Put Your Money To Work
Vow to donate monthly to global girls' education campaigns, such as Girl Rising or She's The First, to reinstate our commitment to enabling girls around the world to access opportunities, which only the power of an education provides
2. Spread The Word & Gain More Supporters
Communicate the severity of the situation to friends and family; the more we inspire others to discuss the sheer injustice of the fact that 62 million girls are deprived of an education, and the world is deprived of their brain power, the more likely that concrete action will be taken to ensure that a greater number of girls is sent to school
3. Pledge To Support Other Women
Champion personal and professional successes of women in our lives, because empowered and financially secure women are in high profile positions to effectively impact policy changes to send higher numbers of girls to school