Across the globe, students stocked up on fresh supplies and caught up with old classmates last week. But for 31 million girls, there were no teachers to meet, no first-day jitters to quell and no new homework to get cracking on.
As I entered the hut, I paused. Pulling the end of my dupatta (piece of cloth used by women to cover their chest and head), I wiped off perspiration from my brow. Mariam came forward to greet me and holding my hand, led me inside her hut.
Up until two months ago, 13-year-old Sangita Devi had never set foot in a school. She grew up in a household in India where she and her older sister assumed all of the responsibilities while her two brothers were in school.
Half of the world’s out-of-school children live in conflict-affected areas. Getting those children back to school can save their lives, their health – and their futures.
In a country overwhelmed by refugee children, the schools had no room for her.
Hanan, age 8, lives in a Jordanian slum with her mother and four siblings.
For a girl with untapped potential, child marriage could end her life before it starts.
Angie is 13 and lives in a one-bedroom house with her family in Honduras.
She just became the most educated person in her family.
Orphaned at age 13, Jenifer was raised by her aunts, whom she affectionately calls her “other mothers.” They’re subsistence farmers who live in a tiny mud-brick home with Jenifer and her sister.
They expected her to stay home until she got married. She chose school instead.
As the oldest daughter of a poor family in a rural Indian farming community, Laxmi, age 12, was destined to do housework, watch after her four younger siblings and marry at age 14.