May 26, 2020

Welcome 2020 Shadhika Scholars

As much of the world has slowed down to manage the spread of COVID-19, the Shadhika Scholars program has steadily continued this year. We are pleased to share our 2020 Shadhika Scholars and about our scholarship program.

Our annual application process begins in March, as young women from our partner sites apply for a chance to receive a college scholarship from Shadhika. This scholarship is not just to pay for tuition – but also covers the costs of books, course supplies, transportation, housing, clothing, school trips and spending money for the year.  Our scholarships average $1,200 USD per year.

For most recipients, this scholarship is life changing. Young women in India struggle to access education, especially at a higher level. Many do not get the opportunity to continue their education after 10th standard (10th grade). Fewer still can afford to pay for pre-college (11th and 12th grades) where students in India must pay tuition and choose their course stream (Commerce, Arts or Science). This is the stream they continue in if they continue on to degree college. Unfortunately, attending university to achieve a bachelor’s degree feels out of reach for young women in the communities Shadhika supports. As a culture, young women are expected to get married, start a family and become a housewife – with no real education or job. In India, twenty-seven percent of girls are forced to drop out of school due to early forced marriage and forty-seven percent of girls under 18 years old are married (UNICEF State of the World’s Children Report 2016).

A scholar at Jabala shares: “I belong to a marginalized poor family with the burden of seven members. My father is the only earning member of my family. So, it is very difficult for him to provide continuous support to me. On the other hands I don’t want to discontinue my study and get married like every second girl. So, I need the scholarship very much.”

Shadhika works to break down these barriers by offering scholarships to young women leaders from across India. The young women we select to be Shadhika Scholars are active participants at the women-led partner organizations that Shadhika has worked with for many years. When awarding scholarships, Shadhika does not just look at the applicant’s desire to further their education. We focus on young women who are a girls’ rights leaders, advocates, and role models for young girls in their communities and at their NGO’s. Since the program began in 2015, Shadhika has awarded 90 scholarships with an eighty-nine percent graduation rate. Among our Shadhika Alumnae, seventy-seven percent are now working in the formal economy – something many of them thought was just a dream.

A scholar from Sahiyar shares: “My aim is to become a teacher so that I can later teach the young adults in small villages who have no access to schools. If I get the scholarship through Shadhika, I will be able to fulfill my dream. My father was an alcohol addict who never supported anyone of us and always exploited us. I can only continue my education if I get this scholarship.”

This year, Shadhika is awarding 49 motivated and deserving young women with a scholarship across six partner organizations: Vacha Charitable Trust in Mumbai is home to 20 scholars, Jabala Action Research Organization in Kolkata is home to 13 scholars, Baale Mane in Bangalore is home to five scholars, Milaan in Uttar Pradesh is home to seven, Sahiyar located in Vadodara is home to three scholars and finally, STOP India in Delhi is home to one scholar.

Jan 31, 2020

A laptop changes Lives

We all know that in today’s world, we are largely dependent on technology to ease our work. Most of us cannot go a day without looking at our laptop/ ipad/ phone. And still today, in India, 114 million more men than women have cellphones. That represents more than half the total world-wide gap of around 200 million between men and women who possess phones, according to GSMA, an international cellphone-industry group. In India, millions use smartphones to find jobs, bank, study, order train tickets, interact with the government and more. Offline options require freedom of movement not available for many women, and extra time and cost in traveling, standing in lines and filling out forms.

To break away from these stereotypes, Shadhika provides laptops to our scholars, so that they can learn and develop their skills related to technology and its advantages. We do not want our young women to feel left behind in a race to succeed where men have been dominating for centuries.

Meet one such dynamic Shadhika scholar - Muskan, who is pursuing a Bachelor degree in Medical Imaging Technology and is from one of our grantee partner sites, Vacha. Here’s what Muskan has to say –

“As I didn't have a laptop earlier, it was difficult for me to prepare presentations, Word documents and filling college application forms online. So, I usually borrowed a friend's laptop or went to a cyber cafe. When I had to use a cyber cafe, I had to pay a lot of money every time I had to make presentations or work online. This was not affordable for me or my family. After receiving a laptop from Shadhika, my life is so much easier and I can not only work on my general college tasks, but also learn a lot more like Microsoft Excel. I no longer need to ask anyone for help. I am able to teach my family members to use laptop. I also conduct workshops in my community and teach younger girls on using computer applications. I feel so empowered and proud be among those few girls who owns a laptop and knows to use it.”

Most of us previledged to have access to almost all the technology and can afford to purchase the lastest gadgets, but the young women Shadhika supports, are striving without a computer to meet the needs of today's generation!

Muskan receiving an award for her presentation
Muskan receiving an award for her presentation
Jan 28, 2020

Ghunghat - The Untold Story of Women in Varanasi

Women's Group
Women's Group

In 2019, Shadhika expanded its outreach to a new grantee organization Milaan Foundation in Varanasi. Each year, Shadhika’s Board, along with a few of our staff and donors visit the partner sites. In January, we had our annual India visit for 2020, which was joined by Vaideshwari – a newly appointed Shadhika staff, who formerly was a Shadhika scholar from Baale Mane. Vaideshwari is our Marketing Associate, who has beautifully penned down her own perspective about the women of Varanasi.

 

Ghunghat

“Their voice reminds me of bravery, their eyes express pain and their heart is looking for freedom. Most of the women are seen in villages as compared to the city of Varanasi and you see them working on the green fields more than men. Their saree and the green paddy fields are the real meaning of ‘colourful’. Their names describe their strength, and you feel it within each one of them. Do not use them and throw them like the ‘kulhar’- an earthen clay cup used to serve tea in Varanasi.

 

If you want to see the blend of beauty and bravery, then you need to visit the villages of Varanasi. A thousand stories hidden behind the their ghunghat. A ghunghat is the free-flowing end of a saree which, in Varanasi and many other Indian villages is pulled over the head to act as a facial veil. When you meet them in groups, the men surround them like a lock. I kept thinking - Why can’t they just unlock them? Unlock them from their rude rules and violence; I wanted to shake them up and ask them to let the women be free, be empowered!

 

Life is hard in the village which has no facilities. But, due to the work done by the local NGO’s, they are now stepping up to ask questions and come out of their husband’s, brother’s or father’s shadows, they are unveiling their ghunghat! The women are so optimistic in their thoughts and words, that I have no doubt they are going to be the superb role models for their daughters. They are already an inspiration for the upcoming generation. It is just like looking at a bird caged for years, once let out – they just know that they must spread their wings and fly!

 

We are witnessing this change, this revolution slowly being unfold and I am so glad that I will be a part of it!”

Shadhika's Program Officer addressing Women
Shadhika's Program Officer addressing Women
Empowered daughters!
Empowered daughters!
 
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