Girls in Juhapura community belong to low income migrant families and are affected by lack of at-home support resulting from low parental literacy and pressures to supplement family income rather than study. The average income of families is $150-$200 a month which supports a family of 5 to 7 people. Women are mostly vegetable sellers and wage laborers and often their daughters join them at work at an early age which results in them missing school. Parents often prioritize investing in their sons’ education.
Science, technology, engineering, and medicine – together known as ‘STEM’ fields – suffer from a glaring lack of females, especially in India. A recent UN report in 2016 shows that girls and women constitute only 14% of the total scientific community in India. Negative perceptions and stereotypes of STEM as a ‘boys only’ path or for the geeky and unattractive girls also inhibit girls’ likelihood of developing an interest in these fields. Girls face barriers towards achievement in STEM subjects because of the gendered challenges that they face, such as workload at home, lack of support from family and teachers to pursue education, pressure to get married before the legal age 18 years, lack of financial support, gender-based violence and reduced mobility. In addition, girls do not receive adequate training, infrastructural support in schools, role models to aspire to in technical fields and on-the-job experiences, to pursue STEM fields. Stuck in a deeply entrenched gender inequality, Indian women face many battles before they can make it to the STEM education streams and jobs. The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind noted at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) in 2018, only about 10% of those who joined an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and other technical institutes were women. Those in higher technical research are even fewer. A Kelly Global Workforce Insights (KGWI) survey on Women in STEM in 2016 showed that 81% of women in STEM fields in India perceived a gender bias in recruitment, salary, benefits and performance evaluation. The family pressures to conform to traditional gender roles, coupled with the hostile STEM work culture is making women not opt for STEM professions.
Established in 1998, SAATH works in urban slums of Gujarat. The focus of SAATH’s programs is to improve the overall quality of life for households in slums. Their stakeholders include children in pre-school, youth, women, men, and young persons with disabilities. Amongst youth, they focus on supporting those who have dropped out of school or college, to build their confidence and access to decent livelihoods. SAATH’s experience and expertise is particularly relevant to EMpower because of their focus on exposing girls to non-standard livelihoods. Prior to joining SAATH, Niraj Jani, the Executive Director, worked in livelihoods programs in Gujarat Maritime Board, All India Institute of Local Self Government and CEPT Research and
Development Unit in Gujarat. Hiren Rana, the program manager of the EMpower-funded program – Women@Work, has experience in livelihoods for women as an academic and development professional. Kruti Jhaveri, the livelihoods program coordinator holds a Masters in urban management and is responsible for facilitating job placement for young women at Saath’s livelihoods Centre.
EMpower’s 5th grant to SAATH will provide a curriculum-based training in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects to 200 adolescent girls through a community science lab. It will also help 200 women to gain technical training and placement support in non-traditional livelihoods.
Primary Location: Gujarat
Funded Since: 2014
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