ENTREPRENEURSHIP TO FIGHT CHILD MARRIAGE
Forced circumstances and unquestioned paths. Dreams born out of situations that force us to interrogate ourselves.
Sheskalo was a 14-year-old girl who lived in a small village in Nepal. She had always been a bright and ambitious student, but her family's financial situation made it difficult for her to continue her education. Her parents believed that education was a luxury that they couldn't afford, and they had already started looking for potential suitors for her to marry when she reached the age of 14.
According to UNFPA, 38.4% of women in Nepal between the ages of 20-49, are reported to have got married before the age 18. This was not going to be her story.
Sheskalo knew that getting married at such a young age would mean the end of her dreams and aspirations. She had seen many girls in her village drop out of school and get married off early, and she didn't want the same fate for herself.
The day when her mother and father told her that it was the time for her to drop school and marry, Sheskalo strongly rejected. She was looking for solutions to be able to finance her studies, to give it a try and to convince her parents further. After sleepless nights and no appetite, she found a solution. Sheskalo remembered the group of women who were selling handmade crafts at a wedding she had attended. She thought to herself that maybe she could use her creativity and artistic skills to make some money to continue her education, so she decided to talk to her older brother to borrow some money to be able to buy some paint and glue. This was a life changing talk for her; convincing her brother.
With the financial help of her brother and half-way convinced parents, Sheskalo started making beautiful handmade crafts such as woven baskets. She was determined to make her small business a success so that she could continue her studies to a higher level. This work allowed her to pay her debts to her brother in two weeks, and make 8,000 rupees a month (about 56 GBP). Her determination and story grabbed the attention of UNFPA, where they could together establish a ‘girls only circle’ to talk freely about their conditions, wills and financial management.
Sheskalo worked tirelessly on her crafts, spending every free moment she had making new creations. She sold her crafts wherever she could, and before long, word of her determination began to spread. Her crafts and success became popular, and girls from neighboring villages started coming to her for the same reason: to continue education and to find a way out of child marriage.
With the money she earned from her crafts, Sheskalo was able to continue her studies and pay for her school fees. In the year 2018, she began to take computer lessons, saving further for her dreams to study accountancy. Her parents were surprised by her success, and they began to see the value of education. They realized that with her talent and determination, Sheskalo could achieve great things.
Thanks to her hard work and determination, Sheskalo was able to avoid the fate that had befallen many of the girls in her village. She continued her education, and her small business continued to grow. She was inspiring other young girls to pursue their dreams and never give up.
In a society where opportunities are limited and where marriage is a part of culture, which families see as the only guarantee of being able to take care of their daughters, this young girl's perseverance is one of the most prominent examples of what can be accomplished with knowledge, education and awareness, with determination and desire. Sheskalo's story must be an inspiration for girls all over the world. With hard work and determination, anything is possible, even in the face of difficult circumstances.