“Why do girls need education?”

When I was teaching kids of migrant workers near my residence, I came across a mother who entered with her 4 children – 3 girls and 1 boy between ages 5 and 11 in my classes. While registering their details I asked the mother, “In which classes do they go now?” She asked me to register them all in 1st standard. I objected and told her that the eldest should go for higher classes, at least 6th standard. The mother sternly said to me – “Why do girls need education? I’m educating them so that they can teach and help their little brother in his studies. They are lucky that they have a younger brother and now all 3 sisters will learn and teach him.”  The question about those girls’ future haunts me even today; what they shall do once they’re done teaching their brother! I realised girls, especially in some not-so-progressive states, need to be empowered and education is the strongest tool to do so.