Naaree Shakti is a hindi phrase meaning girl power or feminine power. A key piece of our philosophy is empowering members of our community to take control of their own lives. We aim to create sustainable impact driven from within the community itself. There is no initiative that aligns with this philosophy in the way that female empowerment does. If girls don’t believe that they can become independent, or become educated, we lose 50% of the power of our community in that moment. Indian culture has a tendency to devalue the education of the girl. We hope to create an environment where our girls be proud to be Indian women and proud to be educated women. We believe that the two don’t have to be exclusive.
convince girls to enroll
In the younger years, convincing a parent to keep their child in school is not difficult. It can serve as a form of childcare, and help their child understand basic life skills. However, once girls hit puberty, their education often loses priority. If a girl does not believe that she will ever enter the workforce, then she may be better off staying home from school to learn the skills a wife needs to know. The first step of our empowerment initiative is convincing girls and their parents to keep their girls in school, and to keep them enrolled in our programs.
tell them that they can succeed
So long as the girl is enrolled in school, we instill in them the belief that they can graduate and they can apply to college. From when they first begin coming to the center, we tell girls and boys alike that they should study hard to prepare for college. We work to make sure that our centres are environments where girls are seen as equally as likely to be successful in academics.
expose them to educated women
Our words of empowerment are reinforced with our partnership with Lady Shri Ram College. Each girl is paired with a "God Sister" (an older student from LSR who comes to tutor their child during the school season). We tell the girls at our centre that they can go to college if they study, then allow them to build relationships with the intelligent young women who have done just that. They may not know many people who have gone to college, yet alone many college educated women, so this partnership helps us demonstrate to our girls that college can be in their futures as well.
give them tools for independence
When a girl's education is cut short, their relationship with the prajna foundation does not end. When her education is cut short, a girl becomes far more vulnerable to the threats of early marriage and abandonment, early pregnancy, domestic abuse, trafficking, etc. To protect uneducated girls from these threats, we also run vocational training out of our Kalkaji center. We offer singer sewing machine training programs and certificates. The women who go through these jobs are then able to gain employment and support themselves.
set them up for a happy healthy family
Whether the girl has a grade 12 degree, a college education, or a sewing certificate, they are empowered to take control over their own life. When a woman has an ability to support herself, she can marry when she feels ready to support a child and when she has the resources to provide for them the same opportunities. Her children are then more likely to have access to a quality education and to understand the importance of female education as well. When this pattern continues generation after generation, the impact is enormous.