Because I Am a Girl is a collection of seven stories of seven girls from different parts of India who fought with their situation and tried to empower themselves. With an Introduction by Govind Nihalani and written by personalities from all walks of life—writers, actors, artists, and TV stars—the stories try to capture their struggles, their dreams, and how they keep hope alive in their lives. • Anjum Hasan visits a village in Bharatpur, Rajasthan, where young girls are forced to become sex workers. • Pooja Bedi goes to Lucknow and meets a woman who gets an ultrasound done but then decides against killing her unborn baby girl. • Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan travels to Hyderabad where she meets a young girl who comes to the city, learns data entry and finds herself a job. • Shahana Goswami meets a young school drop-out who has done a beautician’s course, and plans to set up her own parlour. • Namrita Bachchan tells the story of a young girl who sells vegetables in the male-dominated Delhi’s Govindpuri sabzi mandi during the wee hours of the morning and then learns to read and write during the day. • Nafisa Ali Sodhi writes about a young girl in Delhi, who works as a rag picker but is a bright young student. • Aditi Rao Hydari encounters a woman whose husband died of tuberculosis and who is training to be a nurse now while being an apprentice in a hospital.
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Last December I went to Ooty for a vacation and me being who I am, I decided to get a book as a souvenir of my visit. Yeah, some people have already told me that it is lame to get a book for a souvenir, especially if it is not about the place I have visited. But I don’t really care! Especially with this book, I don’t regret it at all.
‘Because I am a Girl’ is a book that brings forward seven inspiring stories of seven truly extraordinarily ordinary ladies who have had no advantages in life, yet they have made it further in their lives than those who have been born with silver spoons in their mouth. This is an emotional atom bomb that had me from the very first page. To know that none of what this book sends out is fiction is a horrifying thought, but at the same time it brings us hope. At a time where every second news is of rape and domestic violence, the journey of these Seven Girls is like a beacon on a stormy night at the sea.
For the first time I will not talk about the writing style or the editing. They do not matter when compared to the aim of this book. But yes, I will talk about the characters. They are strong and determined and most importantly they are people we should idolize instead of the filmstars and sports person. These are the people who our lovely politicians should learn from and answer to because I know that they have worked and fought harder than the rest of us. They all may not be highly qualified in terms of academics, but they ARE more educated than us.
While every single story made an impact on me, but I have to mention Ramrati especially. Pushpa is a lady from UP who stood by her decision of not ‘killing’ her girl child in her womb and gave birth to three beautiful daughters in spite of all the humiliation and abuse of her husband. Ramrati is the matriarch of this particular family and Pushpa’s mother-in-law, a lady who is two generations above us and not educated. Yet her attitude and mentality could put most of the people of our generation to shame. Irrespective of the progressing times and highly expensive education, we are producing males who have no respect for women and women to victimise other women at the same time. All the while, there is this old lady in a village in UP who openly accepts love marriages, treats her daughters-in-law like her own daughters and fights with her own son for the rights of her daughter-in-law. Hats off to that lady for her attitude that our IIT/IIM/Harvard/Oxford and IPS/IAS ‘qualified’ boneheads do not realise.
I am happy that Plan India and few celebrities came forward to work together to bring this book to us. Thank You Random House India too, I will always love the Lee Childs that you publish, but I will truly cherish this book.
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