Dolly Kumar, 14, has a dream that sets her apart from other girls in Bucchabasi, a small village in Uttar Pradesh, India—she’s training to become a kickboxing champion.
In Bucchabasi, it’s uncommon for girls to continue their educations past elementary school, let alone pursue a career. There’s only one elementary school in the village, and when it comes time for secondary school, children have to find a school in a nearby village. This comes with additional costs—tuition and transportation fees—that many parents in rural areas can’t afford.
When considering who to send for advanced schooling, parents tend to prioritize sons over daughters. Kumar chalks this behavior up to an assumption that daughters will join their husbands’ families after marriage and cost their family a dowry, while sons stay with their parents and increase their family’s assets with their wives’ dowries.
“For girls,” she says, “they only emphasize sharpening their cooking and cleaning skills.”