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Reflections: Education & Emancipation Denied…

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“The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence.” Rabindranath Tagore

Reflections: Education & Emancipation Denied…

Women’s Education Worldwide: Student Leadership Conference 2008

Female Education: World: Class Dismissed in Swat Valley – A Pray for Malala Yousafzai

My uneducated paternal grandmother was a visionary. When the missionaries arrived in her farming village, she knew everything around her would change whether she liked it or not. She sent her youngest son, my dad, to the missionary school because she wanted him to be prepared for the challenging and changing world he would inherit. As she said, quite often, “A child’s fingers are not scalded by a piece of hot yam which its mother puts into its palm.” If she had a young daughter she’d have sent her to school too. Instead, dad attending school became her catalyst for change. That seemingly simple act changed the trajectory of my dad’s life.

“Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.” Rabindranath Tagore

Reflections: Education & Emancipation Denied…

Cindy: a film by CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education)

A Short story on mother and child relationship by Rabindranath Tagore
Supposing I became a champak flower, just for fun, and grew on a branch high up that tree, and shook in the wind with laughter and danced upon the newly budded leaves, would you know me mother?
You would call, “Baby, where are you?” and I should laugh to myself and keep quite quiet.
I should slyly open my petals and watch you at your work.
When after your bath with wet hair spread on your shoulders, you walk through the shadow of the champak tree to the little court where you say your prayers, you would notice the scent of the flower, but not know it came from me. Contd below…

When I read the NYTimes article on Malala, I wept. Read her diary excerpts via the BBC.  When education is denied to females in any community, emancipation efforts suffer and a community stagnates. Education offers both personal and community growth. It opened doors for my dad and he believed it would open doors for girls and boys everywhere. We learn about the value of an education, and its impact on all of our lives, when we open the door to education for all, and use it for massive, positive, societal change. A society that denies women an education eventually pays a price… the denial of its own emancipation. More below!

“The widest road leading to the solution of all our problems is education.” Rabindranath Tagore

Reflections: Education & Emancipation Denied…

Women’s Education in 3 Countries…

Education: The State of Women in America

From Home to Global Nest: Rabindranath Tagore’s Maturing Sense of Female Education

When after the midday meal you sat at the window reading the Ramayana, and the tree’s shadow fell over your hair and your lap, I should fling my tiny shadow on to the page of your book, just where you were reading.
But would you guess that it was the shadow of your little child?
When in the evening you went to the cowshed with the lighted lamp in your hand, I should suddenly drop to the Earth again and be your own baby once more, and beg you to tell me a story.
“Where have you been, you naughty child?’
“I won’t tell you, mother.” That’s what you and I would say then. By Rabindranath Tagore via

As Tagore suggested, “Service to man is service to God,” and all of us, male and female, should be able to offer our best skills in service to humanity. Education allows us to maximize those skills ans put them to use in our countries; we can then serve with knowledge, humility and focus.  I decided to offer  Tagore’s sage perspective on the subject after I watched the video above, and considered his 10 tips on the value and uses for Education: If as Tagore explains, that education should be for the following: Self Realization; Intellectual Development; Physical Development; Love for humanity; Establishment of relationship between man and God; Freedom; Co-relation of Objects; Mother tongue as the medium of Moral and Spiritual Development  Instruction; and Social Development (source:, then the benefits to every community are obvious. When girls are denied an education, the entire family is denied a vital future. This is a global concern not just a problem for a few.

The challenge of writing this post is that I had to avoid the temptation of taking sides and casting aspersions. Female education and emancipation is not just a third world problem but a global one. Read the articles and watch the videos. This is not an easy fix topic to tackle. I pray for Malala’s speedy recovery and that her life would be spared. We must all become voices for change.

What are your thoughts? What level of education did you receive? Do you take time to encourage others to get an education? Do you see and know what they’re good at? What do they excel at?  Do you do same for yourself?  Do share! Thank you. :-)

This post was inspired by a prompt from WP Weekly Writing Challenge: And Now For Something Completely Different. What if we occasionally pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones and tried an unexpected post style? It could be interesting to readers, but more importantly, it could help us expand our boundaries, push past writers’ block, and spark ideas for other posts.  So this week, we challenge you to step outside your blogging box and try something totally different: At the end of your post, take a minute to reflect on the experience of creating it. Was it easier than you thought? Harder? Did you learn anything useful? Will you incorporate the new style into your repertoire? Would you try this exercise again with a different style? YES!

  • If you normally write non-fiction, try fiction.
  • If you normally write fiction, try poetry.
  • If you normally post photos, try writing.
  • If you normally just write, try including photos.

*Please bear with me as I catch up on your blogs and commenting… I’m back on track with reading and responding to your blogs; albeit at a slow pace. Thank you all for your patience! :-)

For More: Women’s Lives & Issues 

Positive Motivation Tip: We learn about the value of education and its impact on all of our lives when we open the door to education to all, and use it for massive societal change.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos Indian studentGuinea school girl, Afghanistan: Girl’s Classroom, via Wikipedia or my personal collection

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

45 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/10/2012 7:11 am

    Here in India, a lot of efforts have been taken by the Govt in promoting education for Girls. A few of the steps include, exemption of exam fees for girl candidates in many of national level competitive examinations ( college level). A recent law passed by Govt. of India called “Right to Education” promises free education for every student, irrespective of girls or boys upto high school level. Other notable programme for girls include scholarships for families having single girl child. Still a lot of work has to be done, but there are lot of promising steps taken by our Govt.

    • 10/10/2012 9:50 am

      That is great Shibin and I know that there are nations that continue to up the ante on female education… All good but we need to keep talking about it and encouraging others to follow suit. In the long run, it will be a win win for all. TY! 🙂

  2. 10/10/2012 7:19 am

    I really enjoyed this post Well Done! I thought you did a wonderful job putting it together. I also enjoyed watching the videos. The short story was beautiful. I appreciate that your paternal grandmother was a visionary. I find it interesting that one individuals choices can be felt for generations after that choice has been made.

    • 10/10/2012 9:53 am

      TY Star! I was quite jarred by the incident with Malala and the idea that we can hurt each other over something as beneficial as an education saddens me. My granny was a woman ahead of her time for sure. 🙂

  3. 10/10/2012 7:45 am

    Thank you for your post. I feel I’m not alone in my indignation over how badly women are still treated in some parts of this world. And now, in Egypt, I read that they are going to impose Sharia law! When will the Middle East respect women as equals and not treat them as chattel?

    • 10/10/2012 9:59 am

      To be fair, women are treated like chattel all over the world; just a matter of degree and perception in some nations. This is a global problem not a Mid East problem alone, and my post is trying to draw us back to the value of an education for generations to come… TY for your feedback! 🙂

      • likeitiz permalink
        11/10/2012 7:24 am

        Yes, it is a big problem, even in “our own backyard” here in the great United States. I did not intend to imply it’s only a problem in the Middle East.

    • 11/10/2012 7:50 pm

      Okay cool and thank you for the clarification… I wish we could reach a place in this world where both girls and boys can be encouraged to excel and achieve every goal… TY! 😉

  4. Bree permalink
    10/10/2012 8:28 am

    Powerful subject and post. I pray she recovers and that our leaders across the globe see the importance of educating their female populace. When we educate only half a nation, we deprive ourselves of the benefits of all its people. As alwys you do a superb job in collecting your data and writing it.

    • 10/10/2012 10:03 am

      TY B! This is a global issue and I tried to include video from around the world as it is not my intention to point fingers in one direction… Women’s education and emancipation is important everywhere as we can all do more; including where work opportunities are concerned even here in the US. I know this is a delicate subject that can swing in extreme directions but that isn’t my motivation. I’d love a discussion on it. 🙂

  5. Goz permalink
    10/10/2012 9:04 am

    Cool post..

    • 10/10/2012 9:49 am

      Hey Goz,
      Good to see you here! I hope you take a moment to watch the videos and read the articles; a real eye opener… and a global concern. 😉

  6. 10/10/2012 11:12 am

    When I was young and should have completed my education. However, life got in the way and it was put on hold for 20 years. Now, I am grateful that I was not only able to finish my undergraduate degree, but complete an MBA as well.

    What you do with the education received is secondary to how it changes you forever. Knowing that I am a different person today, I grieve for those who are denied education.

    • eof737 permalink*
      10/10/2012 11:22 am

      Exactly Miriam, I grieve for those who have no say whatsoever in getting an education and that is my greatest sadness and concern. I have to say that one thing the US offers is the chance to go to school at any age. Amen to that!

  7. 10/10/2012 11:48 am

    Very sad that this is even an issue isn’t it? We are far from an enlightened world. I love how your grandmother made her choices and the thought she put into them. Education is the key to everything!

    • eof737 permalink*
      10/10/2012 11:51 am

      Yes, it is so sad that something as valuable to nation-building as education, can be a point of contention and violence in our world… TY Karen and delighted to reconnect with you… 🙂

  8. 10/10/2012 6:38 pm

    Thanks to stop by. I hope you’ll revisit!

    I enjoyed your powerful post, and those lovely pics.
    Best wishes,

    • 10/10/2012 7:18 pm

      I enjoyed visiting your blog too and have subscribed. 🙂
      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it! 🙂

  9. 10/10/2012 8:25 pm

    Loved the post! Totally agree. In a lot of countries women’s education is not considered to be important. Which is really sad. I was also planning to do a take on education for the writing challenge, though a different angle. Look out for it soon..

    • eof737 permalink*
      10/10/2012 8:36 pm

      Will definitely look out for it… Malala’s incident got this one going and I felt it would be another way to post for a change… I try to stay away from certain topics for all sorts of reasons. I’m glad I did this one.
      Peace! TY! 🙂

  10. 11/10/2012 3:13 am

    Excellent post, Elizabeth. We in the west take our education for granted.

    • eof737 permalink*
      11/10/2012 3:17 am

      Thank you Tilly! We certainly do and, like electricity, we only miss it when the light goes out on our thinking and opportunities. Feel better! 🙂

  11. 11/10/2012 5:28 am

    It is just sad that some women from other parts of the globe are being denied education. I never thought such gender discrimination still existed today.

    It’s been a while since I’ve read your words of wisdom, Elizabeth. I guess it’s because I went back to my blog in blogger and lost some of my wordpress contacts. But now you’re in my blogroll so I can visit you often again. 🙂

    Great post! And God bless you always! 🙂

    • 11/10/2012 7:53 pm

      Glad to see you here again Irene!
      I’ve been out of the loop too and still on catch up mode. I hope you blog is listed on your twitter page. If not, please leave link he e for me so i can visit you too. 🙂

    • 12/10/2012 11:16 pm

      TY Irene! I paid you a visit and will continue now that I have your URL. Blessings too! 🙂

  12. 11/10/2012 8:41 am

    Very well written post. Education, awareness and financial independence are key words.

    • 11/10/2012 7:55 pm

      Well said Indira! Those three factors could help women grow and expand. TY! 🙂

  13. 11/10/2012 11:11 am

    This is such an important issue Elizabeth and you relayed it beautifully. My heart breaks for all those denied an education. Sadly there is a huge fail here in the States with education. It needs to be priority 1, in my opinion.
    Thanks for tackling this.

    • 11/10/2012 7:57 pm

      I’m with you on the education bit in the USA. We need more exposure and more education so we don’t become insular. 😉

  14. 11/10/2012 12:21 pm

    Violence against a child can not bring good. I do feel that we in the west have a different perspective on what is education and emancipation. The situation in Afgganistan is decades of war.Had Russia and the US not been bombing these people for the last 20 years, all children could be in school and fed etc.. Schools and infrastructure have been demolished. They are not rich.
    Girls will be, and in certain more affluent areas been given, a chance at ed.. It is in those areas that have no funding for both sexes that the girls are excluded for now. Women are the keepers of the home. The men are generally the workers, support outside the home, the money. The boys are under no restriction from passing on knowledge at home to their sisters. But for now the seat in school is for the boys. The men in this culture are free(er) to travel to look for work to support the family. It is not an opression for women to care for the family, indeed, to some even here in the west a SAHM is a luxury! (In Saudi they have entire universities for women ONLY) But it is incumbant for the muslim community to care for all in it. Women should be cared for regardless of earning power. Eventually ,given peace all people will have the ‘education” they want.
    Here in the West you must pay for the education , it is not a right. If you take loans it follows for life,even to prison for non payment. All people deserve a free education. How we get there depends on the area ,culture and economics of each place.

    • 11/10/2012 8:01 pm

      TY for your impassioned comment and the insights you offered. Yes, there are differing perspectives, and we add our voice by taking action.

  15. 11/10/2012 7:53 pm

    Excellent blog…I so wanted to further my education…
    but, circumstances such as having no guidence…no financial means…
    or support for your desires… is sometimes encountered by many…
    There are any gaps in the system…and this includes all countries…

    • 11/10/2012 8:04 pm

      I can enjoy the singing and make more effort to improve and, make more posts! 🙂

  16. 11/10/2012 8:07 pm

    Hi Elizabeth… I feel you should include the Dairy written by Malala Yousufzai ( which was published in BBC) somewhere in the article. Here is the link from BBC Please do go through her diary

    • 11/10/2012 8:29 pm

      TY Shibin! I have added the link to the post… Truly a courageous young woman.

  17. 12/10/2012 10:28 pm

    Your post has been ‘freshly pressed’, Eliz! I had to share it with my readers…and I thank you for the unbelievable job you did putting it all together. So many kids take education for granted…and there are others who would DIE to go to school…and give their lives trying to. You are an amazing journalist, Eliz…and an old soul…I am grateful to have connected with you. 🙂

    • 12/10/2012 11:20 pm

      You are so kind Vivian and thank you for sharing this post with your readers… I was touched by Malala’s story and it reignited a subject close to my heart… Many of us take our education for granted and yet, many others can only wish for the chance… Thanks for checking in especially as you’ve become so busy with your work. Blessings! 🙂

  18. 13/10/2012 12:06 am

    Talking through commonalities is so powerful. I think we often miss that. It’s a common language to start communication, to grow that communication, and to reach and join together. The videos are so inspiring. I now have a collective image of how women can have heightened strength through education to instigate and create avenues for change in the world. I never thought of myself as being of an elite class, which I measured through economics, but I am of an elite class. I make up a small percentage of women in the world who are educated. I need to remember this and keep a broader perspective in mind when I complain about what I have not accomplished. We need to invest in a common future, helping to educate women who will help in educating the world. Thank you for this post.

    • eof737 permalink*
      13/10/2012 12:13 am

      Ty for your feedback too. I’m with you on the subject of communication… The more we do it cross-culturally, the better we’d get at understanding and appreciating the struggles of other women globally. So much more work to do. 🙂

  19. 13/10/2012 4:43 am

    Wonderful article Elizabeth. Have you seen the video of our Prime Minister ripping shreds of the Opposition Leader for sexist behaviour? I think you might enjoy it. Until we eradicate sexism, we will battle.

  20. 14/10/2012 7:48 am

    We will continue to face these challenges until more of us, male and female, see the win, win of empowering every member of society. TY Robyn!

  21. 15/10/2012 4:28 am

    A lot of work goes into your posts… that is clear! Excellent.


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