Educating Girls: The Journey Ahead


NEW YORK, February 9, 2018 — Safeena Husain, founder and executive director of Educate Girls, discusses her plans to bridge the education gap for adolescent girls in rural India. The discussion was moderated by the director of the Public Policy Program at Hunter College's Roosevelt House Shyama Venkateswar. (1 hr., 10 min.)

Access to free and compulsory education to all children between the ages of 6-14 in India is mandated per the 86th Amendment to India’s Constitution. However, even with the right schemes and programs in place, gender disparity remains a significant barrier to education—around 2.5 million girls have never been to school. Educate Girls, a non-profit organization founded by Safeena Husain, a member of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Network, is tackling this challenge by mobilizing communities and leveraging public resources to enroll and retain out-of-school girls and ensure access to a quality education for children in underserved communities.

Since its creation in 2007, Educate Girls has helped more than 4.2 million children in over 21,000 schools, has brought back and retained over 200,000 girls, and launched the world’s first “Development Impact Bond” in education. In addition, Educate Girls works to change cultural barriers and patriarchal mindsets so that girls can make better informed life choices, gain employment, and lift their families out of poverty while simultaneously creating a generation of educated female leaders, trained teachers, and an ecosystem of parents and village leaders who will continue to influence the community for generations to come.

Join us for a special discussion moderated by Shyama Venkateswar with Safeena Husain to hear about her ambitious plans as Educate Girls attempts to bridge the education gap for adolescent girls and directly impact over 16 million children over the next 5 years in some of the most rural, remote and marginalized geographies of India.

Safeena Husain

Safeena Husain is the Founder and Executive Director of Educate Girls. She has worked extensively with rural and urban underserved communities in South America, Africa and Asia. After returning to India, Safeena chose the agenda closest to her heart – that of girls’ education – and founded Educate Girls in 2007. Safeena’s efforts to bridge the gender gap in education in India have been widely recognized. Under her leadership, Educate Girls has received the 2015 Skoll Foundation Award, the 2014 WISE Award, the 2014 USAID Millennium Alliance Award, the 2014 Stars Impact Award, and the British Asian Trust’s Special Recognition Award from HRH Prince Charles for outstanding contribution in education. Safeena was also selected as a 2011 Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leader and recently won the 2017 Niti Ayog Women Transforming India Award and the 2016 NDTV-L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth Award in the Education Category.


Shyama Venkateswar

Shyama Venkateswar (moderator) is Director of the Public Policy Program at Roosevelt House and Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College. She has almost twenty years of experience in research, policy and advocacy focusing on social justice issues, both in the U.S. and globally. Before her current role, she worked at the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW), where she served as Director of Research & Programs, and helped provide the vision and strategic direction for the Council’s policy agenda on economic security for low-income women, diversity in higher education and the corporate arena, women’s leadership, and ending global violence against women. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and is a graduate of Smith College.


Event Details

Thu 08 Feb 2018
5:30 - 7 p.m.

Asia Society and Museum
725 Park Avenue
(at 70th Street)


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