Rajina takes over as Minister of Education and Culture
Rajina refuses to let disability be a barrier to leadership. Having triumphed over stigma and inspired change in her own community, she takes on the role of Minister of Education and Culture for a day and advocates for inclusive quality education for all.
Rajina was born with a disability, enduring stigma from her community that made her want to drop out of school. With resilience and bravery, she has continued with her studies and not only excelled but inspired change within her community.
But she hasn’t stopped there. As part of Plan International’s Girls Takeover project the 18-year-old took on the role of Minister of Education and Culture for a day, raising her voice for change and inclusive quality education for everyone, including girls with disabilities.
Breaking down community barriers to inclusive education
Rajina’s path was never easy. Born into a marginalised Muslim community and faced with a disability—her right hand without fingers—she endured the weight of stigma, even from those closest to her. The ridicule from friends and family made her reluctant to attend school, leading her to discontinue her education during grade 9.
When Rajina joined a Champions of Change (CoC) programme implemented by Plan International Nepal, she learned about self-love and acceptance. Guided by a compassionate CoC facilitator, she gained the strength to overcome the perceived limitations placed on her because of her disability.
Rajina told us, “CoC sessions taught me about loving myself. My disability should not be a barrier. It’s something I can’t change, so I must lead by example and not listen to others.”
She continued, “I returned to school, and with the support of CoC, I excelled. My journey inspired others who had discontinued their education like me,” says Rajina.
Rajina excelled in her studies, and encouraged by her achievements, others in her community who had faced similar struggles decided to pursue education again.
“CoC sessions transformed our community’s mindset. Parents understood the importance of girls’ education, and barriers began to crumble,” expressed Rajina.
A combination of Rajina’s resilience and CoC sessions had a profound impact on the community, leading to a shift in parents’ attitudes towards girls’ education. The community began to understand the importance of education for all, breaking down barriers and prejudices.
Minister of Education and Culture
For a day, Rajina took over the role of Minister of Education and Culture in the Madhesh Province as part of Girls Takeover 2023.
This was Rajina’s first visit to the Ministry. Here she had meetings and interacted with the Ministry of Education and Culture team and learned about their roles and work. It provided her with valuable insights into the policies and planning of the Madhesh Province government, all aimed at ensuring the quality and inclusive education of girls.
This experience ignited a profound sense of empowerment within her, helping her to challenge societal expectations. This experience has given her belief in her aspirations for the future.
“I don’t want to marry before I stand on my own feet. I want to get higher education, acquire skills, and become a doctor,” said Rajina.
Girls Takeover is a Plan International programme where each year in celebration of International Day of the Girl, girls step into the roles of leaders for a day to demand equal power, freedom and representation for girls and young women.
The importance of inclusive quality education
“I dream to become a doctor. For this, I need quality education,” sums up Rajina.
Rajina has also identified an important gap in education available in her community, “I need to learn computer skills at school, but the computer lab is mostly closed in my school. I only got to learn about computers 2 times when I was in grade 8.”
So, as part of her visit to the ministry, the Honourable Minister of Education and Culture told Rajina about the implementation of the Beti Bachau-Beti Padhau project. This initiative is designed to encourage girls’ education and provides a safety net for girls’ futures. Each insured girl receives Rs 125,000 for education. The commitment of the Madhesh Province government to insure 5,000 girls from various districts reflects their dedication to empowering girls through education.
Rajina’s story is one of incredible power, resilience, determination, and youth leadership. Her Girls Takeover experience marks the beginning of her mission to transform the education system, while her life’s struggles serve as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and inspire change.
Girls Get Equal, Youth empowerment, Activism, girls’ leadership