Click, click! Deprived girls to tell their own stories (Feature)

September 16th, 2010 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Anand
Gwalior (Madhya Pradesh), Sep 16 (IANS) Schoolgirls Pooja Bhadoria and Kanchan Mishra are already feeling empowered. In a world where social prejudices are steeped against girls, they are hoping to wield the camera and tell their stories.

The two are from Bhind and Morena, which figure among the 14 districts with some of the lowest child sex ratios in India - less than 850 girls per 1,000 boys, indicating a distinct bias against girls.

But now they are among 30 girls from Gwalior, Bhind and Morena who are being trained in the art of photography by Unicef and the department of women and child development of the Madhya Pradesh government.

“I had not touched a camera before. It is exciting. Now I can show what I feel,” Priya, a Class 10 student of Rabindranath Tagore School from Bhind district, said after attending her first session of a three-day workshop that began here Wednesday.

“There are so many problems we face but we can hardly share that with anyone. Perhaps photography will help.”

Two senior photographers, Prabhas Roy and Jagdish Yadav from Delhi, are training the girls to master the art of photography.

Monica Srivastava, a Class 10 student of Mahatma Lochandas School in Morena, is confident she would be able to highlight the problems of gender bias through photographs.

“The world may not believe if I tell them but how can anyone deny the facts shown in a photograph?”

Both Bhind and Morena are around 500 km from state capital Bhopal. Girls in these districts have to fight poverty, lack of education as well as gender bias.

The voices of girls have been muffled as they hardly have a forum to vent their feelings and social barriers don’t permit them to engage in any activity outside other than going to school - if they are fortunate enough.

But now “clicks” of camera are going to break this barrier of silence.

There are plans to hold a public exhibition of photographs clicked by the girls over the next few days. These photographs will be displayed in the schools where the girls study.

“Such initiatives will go a long way in empowering these girls,” Ashok Shivhare, additional commissioner, Gwalior, told IANS after inaugurating the workshop.

Anil Gulati, communication specialist, Unicef Office for Madhya Pradesh, said: “This workshop is part of an effort to provide an opportunity to children to express their opinions using the power of photography.”

“This is part of the initiative to provide more space and forums to child participation and how they can be engaged to document what they know, see or hear on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the ground realities,” he added

Suresh Tomar, joint director, department of women and child development, said: “We are hoping the children would be able to use the art of photography to help realise the MDGs.”

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