Sarla Devi

As Interviewed by Arya Choudhary, March 17, 2016

Sarla Devi: In Her Own Words

When I was about six years old, both of my brothers used to go somewhere in the morning. But I used to stay back home. When I asked my mother, she told me that they went to school every day. The only reason why couldn’t go to school was because I am a girl. I also observed that the same practice was being carried out in other homes as well.

I have never been to a college. But after my marriage, my husband used to bring me new books. I used to read all the time to gain knowledge and get motivated. Forget about having a college, in fact, my village didn't even have a high school. When I move to the city after my marriage, I met very few women who passed high school. In the hospital, I have seen lady doctors, and when my daughter started going to school, all of the teachers were women.

When I heard the names like Indira Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Kiran Bedi, I came to know about their work in society. I was so surprised how women could do wonders. At that time, I promised myself that I would let my daughter do all of the things I couldn't do. I would open all of the doors for her.

There were a few people who were there to inspire and motivate me. In this list, my husband made top rank. He motivated me a lot, and he used to bring many books. When my daughter was born, he was very happy. This was not a usual thing for other men. Another person was the nurse who used to ask my daughter, “What do you want to become when you grow up?”

In our country, we worship goddesses in our temples, and when a girl child is born in the family, they don’t give her equal rights. It is like she belongs to another family, an orphan. My mother used to love me a lot, but she took an awful lot of time to understand why it was necessary for me to go to school and get some education.

We see a lot of inequalities in India on the basis of gender and the caste system. The women keep their faces under their veils. They don't have the right to make any decisions. The limit of these inequalities varies greatly from house to house. For example, I was allowed to attend after a lot of requesting but my cousin sisters were unable to get their education. In fact, everyone was against my father for his decision. They thought that the girls would go to another house after their marriage, and only the boys will be there to support them.

I have never attended any formal meeting, but whenever I get a chance, I keep my opinion in front of others. I try my level best so that others can also see the importance of giving education to their daughters.

Gender inequality is not the same how it used to be in early years of independence. I gave good education to my daughter, my brother's daughters went to high school as well, and their daughters are doing college. I'm so happy to see all of these changes.

Many different organizations are doing a lot of work. But the change can happen only when the people’s mindset changes. Education can uproot all of the evils of our society.

Padhega Desh toh Badhega Desh,
If our country learns then our country expands (a slogan used in India),
Jai Hind!
Hail India (part of the Indian National Anthem)!