With Knowledge Comes Independence

Doors to dignity and independence opened for women who enrolled in an Intel-supported ICT employment training program.

Did you know that in much of rural India, social customs and lack of funds severely limit girls’ access to education and meaningful employment?  

Girls are expected to become wives and mothers at a young age, and those who don’t marry are viewed as financial burdens to their parents. A digital empowerment program developed by Intel has enabled young women across India’s impoverished, insurgency-stricken “red corridor” to gain confidence, jobs, and independence.

Doors to dignity and independence opened for women who enrolled in an Intel-supported ICT employment training program.
The most important thing that I learned from the course was that I could do anything that I set my sights on if only I work hard. It feels good to know that I can make important decisions on my own.

Options are few for most girls who grow up in India’s so-called “red corridor,” a district marked by poverty and decades-old tribal insurgency. Often forced to drop out of school at a young age because of local attitudes against educating women and a shortage of financial resources, they are then unable to find work because of their lack of skills. Their families frequently seek to marry them off early to reduce the family’s financial burden, and the women face lives of dependency.

New doors to dignity and independence opened for young women like Madhuri Thakur and Bhagvati Lilahare when they enrolled in an Intel-supported ICT employment training program in 2013. The program was implemented by the CAP Foundation as part of the Indian Ministry of Rural Development’s “Aajeevika” (livelihoods) initiative to provide young women with life skills and functional training related to the local economy.

During the six-month program, the women acquired basic computer skills and lessons in English, reading, writing, and math. More importantly, they gained confidence. Thakur says that prior to enrolling in the program, she considered herself inferior to others, noting that the program’s English facilitator, in particular, helped her to find her own voice: “[She] went out of her way to help me. I have never met someone who is so patient with me,” explains Thakur.

Likewise, Lilahare describes how the program affected her:  

It was as if I was becoming a new person with a distinct identity and individuality. Earlier, people around me either pretended that I didn’t exist or looked at me with pity. Now I can see respect in the way they address me.

 

Both women landed jobs after completing the program. Thakur was hired by a leading Indian retail chain, where she was quickly promoted to a supervisory role. Lilahare went to work for a computer institute, where she also was soon promoted to manager. Among her many accomplishments, Thakur considers this to be one of her greatest: She was able to convince her brother, who had previously dropped out of school, to return to the classroom.

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