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Manju, age 14, (at right) says attending school allows her and her friends to   understand their strength and self-worth. Photo by Maggie CarrollManju, age 14, (at right) says attending school allows her and her friends to understand their strength and self-worth. Photo by Maggie Carroll

Editor's note: Empowering women is at the core of Heifer International's model for sustainable development. In honor of International Women's Day on March 8, this week we are sharing stories of the women with whom Heifer works, who take the gifts of livestock and education to produce extraordinary results for themselves, their families and their communities. 

In India, Heifer works with women-only groups to teach them they have worth outside the home. Women are also learning that sending their girls to school can have lasting effects far beyond their families. When a girl receives an education, she'll have more resources and be able to contribute to her local economy.

World Ark contributor Maggie Carroll spent the summer in India interviewing Heifer participants. She spent several days talking with girls to find out how the Heifer project and trainings have helped their families. The first answer she found was that just a few years ago, she would not have had to wait to talk to the girls as their families, even their own mothers, thought it would be a waste of time to send them to school.

Suman, age 12.Suman, age 12.

But now, they all go to school and speak with pride about the confidence they see growing in their own mothers as well.

"My mother has become more vocal," said Suman, age 12. "She isn't so hesitant anymore. Now she can even sign her own name to papers."

Read the rest of their insights about education, work and gender equity in the latest issue of World Ark. If you have an iPad or Android tablet, download for free on the App Store or on Google Play; just search for World Ark. Or also find it here on Heifer's website.

Do you think we in developed countries take education for granted? If so, how can that be changed? Please weigh in by responding here in the comments or by email.

Author

Donna Stokes

Donna Stokes is the managing editor of World Ark magazine. She has worked for Heifer International since September 2008 when she leaped over to the nonprofit world from a two-decade career in newspaper journalism.