Global Reach: India

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EMpower in INDIA

EMpower currently supports work in Delhi/NCR, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and West Bengal with a focus on the urban areas of Pune, Mumbai, Alwar and Udaipur, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Delhi/NCR.

In India, EMpower supports local organizations focusing on Education, Livelihoods and Health and Well-being, with a focus on adolescent girls. There are 325 million young people between the ages of 10-24 in India, EMpower’s area of focus – more than the population of the USA.

Issues affecting Youth

High school drop-out rate

Although India’s Right to Education Act ensures that school is free from grade 1 through grade 8, many young people drop out after grade 8 because fees for secondary school are not covered by the state. Furthermore, puberty is often a time girls drop out of school because their parents are concerned about their safety, reputation and in many cases, seek to have them married early. Many government schools are understaffed, have little to no teaching resources, lack infrastructure to deliver certain skills and subjects and have teachers that are not trained or equipped to teach certain subjects.

Lack of 21st century and life skills

Unemployment among youth due to lack of skills and poverty is a long term challenge for India. Many youth aren’t taught the skills needed to help employability, as government schools are understaffed, have little to no teaching resources and lack the infrastructure to deliver 21st century or life skills. Also, many times teachers themselves are not trained or equipped to impart this knowledge. In a study carried out by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in 2014, 1/3rd of 100,000 youth were found “employable.”

Restricted job opportunities for women and girls

Nearly 95% of women and girls in India are employed within the informal sector, with low wages and little job security. Also, many women have restricted mobility, and so are only trained in traditional home-based work or occupations that do not require them to move beyond their neighborhoods. This severely restricts their earning potential and denies them equal working opportunities. EMpower focuses on opening paths for adolescent girls and young women to obtain jobs in non-traditional fields typically reserved for males, such as construction or taxi driving; or new, not-yet gendered fields such as technology, which offer higher wages and greater opportunity.

High rates of gender based violence

There are 113 million adolescent girls in India, which is 20% of the world’s adolescent girl population, making safety and equity hugely important. High levels of sexual harassment and violence, as well as traditional cultural beliefs about what is and is not appropriate for girls means that many girls aren’t allowed to leave their homes or attend school. They cannot safely walk through most areas of their community or be accepted visible presences in public. Many adolescent girls also face early marriage, discrimination and lack of job opportunities. Despite the legal age of marriage of 18 in India, many girls are likely to be married at a young age and one in five women has had their first birth before her 18th birthday.

Taboos around menstruation

355 million menstruating girls and women in India face serious challenges when it comes to managing their periods, as menstruation is still regarded as something unclean or dirty in Indian society. Taboos surrounding menstruation, including not being allowed to touch water points or food that others will eat, exclusion from religious rituals and the family home, are widely unaddressed and means girls aren’t allowed to participate in many aspects of social and cultural life and face health challenges. Women and girls are often denied access to water and sanitation when they need it most, have little access to services and lack information about healthy practices. Around 63 million adolescent girls do not have access to toilets even in their home, around 23% of adolescent girls aged 12-18 drop out of school after they begin menstruating and 10% of girls in India think that menstruation is a disease.

Our Approach to tackling the Issues

EMpower supports local organizations that:

  • fill critical gaps in schooling and ensure secondary school completion beyond grade 8, especially for adolescent girls.
  • provide 21st century skills through complementary education for in-school urban youth.
  • train and expose youth to job pathways outside the norm, for young women.
  • work with both girls and boys to advance the safety, mobility and role modeling of young people in public spaces, to reduce violence and harassment.
  • help de-stigmatize menstruation to remove restrictions affecting girls and young women.

Other countries in Asia:

Our Underwriters pay for all of our administrative and fundraising costs, so 100% of your donation goes directly to empowering at-risk youth.