AHMEDABAD: An illiterate mother’s fight with her conservative community to educate her daughters has borne sweet fruit — the younger girl, Kanku, 20, has been selected as a constable in the state police while Manisha, 21, has become a nurse. They are the most educated girls in Nagwada, their village in Patdi taluka of Surendranagar district.

“My father-in-law would heap verbal abuses on me for insisting on educating my girls beyond the village primary school and sending them to hostels in Gandhinagar and Patan for their higher studies. Members of my community ‘warned’ me that my girls would run away with someone from the hostel and ruin the family name. I stoically bore the insults and ‘warnings’ but stood my ground,” says Rukhiben.

Rukhiben says that although she never saw the inside of a school, she is happy that her daughters are the most educated girls in the village. “Ten Rabari families have sent their daughters to Patan for higher studies, after my daughters landed government jobs,” says Rukhiben. She confesses that she fixed their marriages while they were one and two years old, in keeping with local custom.

Rukhiben says she grew aware after she started attending meetings of Self Employed Women’s Association (Sewa). To fund her girls’ studies, she learnt farming techniques to grow cumin and increase her income. “My mother spent more than Rs 5 lakh on our education. While our neighbours all built concrete homes, ours is still a mud house. This does not matter, she has given us a strong foundation to build our lives on,” says Kanku.

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