"If You Empower Women, You Can Change The World"
We walk down the alley to the community youth center, one of the few places in Jehangirpuri that girls may visit without a chaperone. Here we meet a group of barefoot teenage girls. Among them is Lakshmi, a fiery, high-voiced 18-year-old in a jean jacket. A born performer with dancing hands, Lakshmi shows us her book recording the reactions of the girls and boys she has spoken to about sex and disease. Before this program, she tells us, girls were easily influenced by pressure from boys. "But now they learn to say no, to trust themselves and make their own decisions."
Ryan asks Lakshmi what she hopes for her future. Lakshmi cracks her knuckles, then slowly waves her palms at us, as if wiping mist from a windowpane. "I want to be completely free," she pipes. "Freedom is a big responsibility, but I want it. I don't want even my husband to stop me later in life. I want to use my skills to make a career." Later, as we're leaving the community center, Ryan snaps a few photographs of the girls and says, "Oh, what that little girl who wants total freedom can do!"