Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India

by Women's Education Project
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Empower Young Women to be Leaders, India
Leaving to start their first job!
Leaving to start their first job!

At Women's Education Project, we want to share some exciting news from our partner, the Aarti Home for Girls.

Recently, we were informed that three students, graduates of our Leadership Academy, are headed to their first jobs as computer engineers at Akasa Air in Mumbai.

Sandhya Puchalapalli, Aarti Home Founder writes, "All of us at Aarti are proud of our girls ... who have been selected after several rounds of interviews ...Truly, the sky is the limit!!"

This is just one story of our Leadership Academy's Next Step program, preparing graduates to confidently interview, pass entrance exams and secure employment in careers of their own choosing.

Donations to WEP, support many young women attending our Leadership Academy at our partner NGOs, and who like these three young women of Aarti Home, have exciting opportunities ahead.

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Women’s Education Project provides NGO partners in India our Leadership Academy, a curriculum for marginalized women (ages 15-24) to attain the skills and self-confidence to become leaders, earners and changemakers. Our Women’s Collaboration Lab, a training and resource center, supports the partners, and ensures the Academies remain grassroots and responsive to student need. 

An objective of our 2022-2024 Strategic Plan is to update and refine the Certificates of the Leadership Academy.  Recently, we piloted our fourth Certificate, the Ripple Effect, with three partners and 30 students.

The Leadership Academy Center, aside from courses, is a space to study and hangout.  Gathering over tea in the Academy’s center, students would tell stories of convincing their neighbor to halt their 15 year old daughter’s marriage and enroll her back in school; of asking their parents to decline the loan shark’s offer; and of teaching their mother to grow a kitchen garden, which now was full of fresh tomatoes.  From these stories, we knew that our students were changemakers.

During the pandemic, students told Academy Directors that their challenges were increasingly complicated, for instance the unstaffed clinic in their village and the open sewage canal were no longer annoyances, but serious health risks to their community and they asked for help to write petitions to government officials.  Knowing the courage and skill required to engage in these activities, we saw the need for a comprehensive training program for our students to safely and effectively make change in their own lives, families and communities.

To design the Ripple Effect Certificate, WEP hired a curriculum developer from Chennai to pilot the program for three-months with 30 students.  The Developer formed arts-based activities in which the students learned how to make positive change, develop projects (of any size), and after guidance from local traditional storytellers, tell their own stories.  At the conclusion of the storytelling sessions, students planted small trees, signifying growth and change.


Women’s Education Project provides NGO partners in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan our Leadership Academy - a program for young women ages 15-24 to become leaders, earners and changemakers.  

At these partnerships, the Leadership Academy offers students: 

  • safe space providing community and baseline essentials
  • Four Certificates (Foundations, Skills, Exploration and Ripple Effect)
  • Clubs, Scholarships to area programs, and an Alumnae Association.  

Leadership Academy, Madurai, TN (Partner:  AIRD)

Enrolled: 96 students, 50 enrolled in Academy sessions

Leadership Academy, Ramanathapuram, TN (Partner AIRD)

Enrolled: 25 students, 20 enrolled in Academy sessions

Leadership Academy, Hyderabad, TE(Partner CWS)

Enrolled: 72 students 

Leadership Academy, Kadapa, AP(Partner, Aarti Home)

Enrolled: 4 Batches 100 students

Leadership Academy, Bap, RJ (Partner, WomenServe)

Enrolled: 2 Batches 50 students

Plans Ahead: 

WEP, through its Women's Collaboration Lab in Hyderabad, is developing a storytelling focused reporting system.  Among other essential data, WEP seeks to gather staff and student stories which can help us to illustrate and quantify how the Academy and Lab upholds our core values (1. solutions come from the community itself and 2. young women thrive in safe supportive spaces with their peers).  Directors and students will upload written stories, videos and photo essays which will provide a feedback loop to inform WEP on our successes and challenges. 

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WEP Madurai and Ramanathapuram students
WEP Madurai and Ramanathapuram students

February and March were busy months for WEP Leadership Academy students in Madurai, Ramanathapuram and Hyderabad.

Students at  the Madurai Center were offered courses  in Tally and Advanced Tally (business acounting software) they participated  in sessions on topics including a current affairs class on  fundimental rights, Adolescents: communication and relationsips, the neuroscience of happiness, dealing constructively with criticism, and mental health post COVID19.  They attended a workshop on Women and Society, which included information on cyber saftey.

Students also  honed their leadership skills planning and conductiong club meetings for the Technology, Financial, Language, and Dance and Sport clubs. 

At the Ramanathapuram Academy, Students participated in classes on spoken English and  civics. 

Students from the Madurai and Ramanathapuram Academies came together for an in person celebration of  Annual Day - a special tradition of the Madurai Academy. They participated in a joyous celebration of song, dance, games and speakers on topics of Women's Empowerment- including alumnae returning to share their expereinces. 

In Hyderabad, Students have been maintaining active book clubs in 10 different villages, and they  they participated in storytelling sessions on World Sparrow day, World Water Day, and International Women's Day. 

They have continued their cycling project-  riding a bicycle daily from the academy to their homes- they've also been teaching other village girls to cycle- and sharing their knowledge of the benefits of cycling to their health and the environment with village boys as well! 

42 Hyderabad students are now cultivating home gardens of pesticid- free vegatables, fruit, flowers and medicinal plants. They have been stydying pollinators, natural pest control methods, and composting, adding to the success of their efforts. 5 students from the program are also rearing chickens- which, along with the gardens have become  good micro businesses for them and their families.  

In March, Hyderabad students participated in sessions on womens reproductive health, ocupational therapy and physical therapy, which ended with a visit to a local hospital.  They completed community mapping activities, identifying essential services and learning about volunteerism and creating community solutions. They also  participated in sessions on facing critical situations, and making the right decisions. 

To celebrate International Womens Day, among other activities,  Hyderabad students spoke to their own parents about Gender Equality. K., an intermediate 1st year student, shared that she spoke to her mother about equality between the genders, and convinced her mom that she is not interested in early marriage, and wants to study and work. 

WEP Madurai students in  Fundamental Rights class
WEP Madurai students in Fundamental Rights class
WEP Hyderabad student book club
WEP Hyderabad student book club
WEP Hyderabad student's  nutrition garden
WEP Hyderabad student's nutrition garden
Hyderabad Academy session on reproductive health
Hyderabad Academy session on reproductive health
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December Monthly Report from Hyderabad Program 

Written by WEP Leadership Academy Program Assistants (Academy Alumnae) 

At WEP-Hyderabad program have different college students coming to us at different timings so we have grouped them into thee different batches throughout the day. The first batch girls are degree students from three area colleges.  For the second batch girls who are coming from distant villages, are girls for whom we have taken special permission from the college management to come to our center at 3:10.  Girls who are studying professional courses they came at 4:10 pm and who stay in the surrounding government hostels.  Daily we have an average attendance of 50 to 70 girls.

Daily Activities:  Every day the students are doing meditation for minutes, voice training and exercise. Then they read newspaper in their groups. 

Leadership Academy: The different trainings that we have given in December month was on World Soil Day event on 5th, where we also gave training on soils. This comes under the kitchen garden activity and now 12 girls have started the kitchen garden and other girls are also planning to start.  We are following up where we find out how many have understood about soils and its importance.  We have given them assignments to identify what kind and quality of soils are there near their homes. We following earlier training on medicinal plants we are following up on that. We are teaching the new students about medicinal plants to those girls who are unable to attend the session. The next one we gave on the “Time Management “under the leadership certificate, we followed the same procedure.  We gave them assignments for personal time lines each student has to make a day time line and weekly time line. They will do a monthly time line in the month of January.  

Book Club:  They take up a book and read them loudly to find out the meaning of the new words and write down the new words in their notebooks.  On Saturdays each of the students selects their books and doing the village book club activities at their home, 12 of the girls have started their book club activities.  All the different groups are have a different day for the book club activity at the center.  Every group takes up a book and find out the different words that are there and its meaning talk about it loudly this is specifically to improve their communication and dramatizing skills and to build up their confidence.   

Visit to the Book Fair:  National Book Fair on 25-12-2021 – Hyderabad, 14 students were taken to the book fair in the city we spent about 1 o clock to 3:30 pm.  The girls visited many stalls bought some books and they browsed through many books at the stalls., The girls were very surprised to see so many books available at one place and so many people that they were interested in reading and it was interesting they had never visited a Book Fair before.  They felt that they must also read regularly. For they were never taught that reading books is very important.

Multi level Garden: In the kitchen garden activity 12 girls have started and they are growing their gardens well.  The Program Assistants are regularly giving them points to improve their gardens with different varities of vegetables and also about natural pest control methods and composting.  Another group of girls are learning to start their gardens.  One student made a chart of all the medicinal plants which we learnt in the training, another distributed lemon grass to all the students.

Cycle club: Cycles have been taken from the last year Academy girls are now will be given to current students.  They will make arrangements to park the cycles near the bus stop and when they return in the evening from the center they will ride the cycle to their homes in the villages. The distance from the bus stop is 2 Km so they find it difficult to go home by walk in the evening.  On Sundays the two girls have volunteered to teach other girls in the villages to ride cycles.

Peer study: We are started peer study groups in the villages and in the center.  Now we have 24 peer study groups. 

Library: Library Days at the center is on Friday and Saturday for the different groups, they have to spend time to read books and discuss in their groups and select books to take with them for the village book club activities, 24 girls have started their bookclub activities near their homes on Sundays. Every Friday and Saturday it’s a library day they have to read books and discuss in their groups then they have selects books from their book club activity.

Learning a skill: We have two sewing machines at the center. The 2020-2021 Academy students are teaching the new girls how to cut and stitch sanitary pads, masks and dresses. The girls are using the material of old curtains and sheets of the center.

Nutrition: The Program Assistants are preparing the nutrition porridge and also we give groundnuts and green gram to the girls alternately. We are maintaining a register for the girls to sign when they come for nutrition. 

Fish farming: The former girls continuing to grow their fish and we are monitoring that. Three students have harvested their fish from the tank after their fish had grown to 1 kg weight. 

Chicken Rearing: The 3 new students have started rearing chickens after we spoke to them about chicken rearing it’s a good micro home based business.

Art & Craft: The some girls have made some hangings with thread and cardboard sheets and papers.

Health: We took the girls 65 girls for a health and medical camp at a nearby hospital and the registration fee was 100 RS for each girl. The doctors gave them good diagnostic attention and asked them to go for further treatment according to their problems.  Many of the girls have menstruation, allergies, thyroid, back pain, dental problems etc.

House visits: We completed 41 house visits to the new student’s homes. House Hold Questionnaire example given below.


    1. Student's Age:17
    2. Level of Education: Intermediate 1st year
    3. Occupation: Studying
    4. Who are the numbers of the household?: Three members
    5. Who is the earning member? Mother
    6. Monthly budget -7000 RS
  • Some of the parents have seen a lot of change in their daughters they are feeling that they are confident and communicating well with their parents.  During the house visits we have told the students (with their parents present) that they have to complete the assignments and submitted at the center.

Report Approved by Director

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Teaching Cycling
Teaching Cycling

We are pleased to share with you our End of Year Report.  After a year of tremendous resilience, growth and accomplishment for both WEP and our students, we invite you to join us in celebrating some of our most inspiring moments, both big and small: 


  • the opening of new Academies in Tamil Nadu & Rajasthan

For our students:

  • assuming leadership in our COVID relief efforts
  • dancing & playing games with elderly after COVID shutdowns
  • starting small fish farms
  • sharing news of college acceptances

We hope these moments, and many more, captured in our report Here and in a link below - are a bright light in your holidays. 

Thank you and wishing you the happiest 2022!


Madurai Students
Madurai Students
Growing Fruit & Vegetables
Growing Fruit & Vegetables
Dancing at an Elderly home
Dancing at an Elderly home
New Rajasthan Academy Class
New Rajasthan Academy Class


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Women's Education Project

Location: New York, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @womensedproject
Project Leader:
Zoe Timms
New York, NY United States
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