Swabhiman: Empowering the Girl Child

Education for girl child

When women stand together to support one another, no one stands a chance against them! A woman feels empowered if she is uplifted by another woman. When this cycle continues, gradually, the entire society is benefited. Girl child education, proper nutrition for the girl child, girl child protection, empowering the girl child through various means are some of the ways this can be achieved.

‘Swabhiaman’ means self-respect and is the most common emotion that binds all women, despite the diversity in their culture, religion or nationality. Looking for their own identity, women have, for centuries, been denied their self-respect. The Swabhiman programme is aimed at empowering the girl-child and women belonging to less-privileged backgrounds who, till date struggle to fight against societal barriers.

Through scholarship programmes, counselling sessions and various other interventions, about 76,000 women and girl child were benefited which was a step towards women empowerment.

It is very important to build confidence among young girls coming from less-privileged communities. Most of them never get a chance to realise their purpose in life and hence it is a step back from achieving women empowerment.

These girls are all first generation learners, with their parents engaged as domestic help, drivers, street vendors and daily wagers. Along with difficult financial conditions at home, the Swabhiman scholars also had to overcome the prevailing gender bias in their families and community, and the vicious trap of child marriage, to even go to school.

So far, the Swabhiman programme has made a difference to over 500,000 girls and women across India which can be counted as one of the accomplishments towards achieving women empowerment.

Education for the girl child

“My father owns a grocery store. My brother is a couple of years older to me and dreams of becoming a film star someday. Unlike him, I had always been unsure about myself, until one day, I was asked what I really wanted to do. When I told the community counselor how much I loved reading science books, she urged me to take a Swabhiman Scholarship test. I was very nervous about how I had performed, but my mother said- “There is so much more you can do than cook and clean for your family, like I do today.”

It has been 2 years now that I was accepted for the scholarship and started my education all free of cost. More than books and knowledge if I gained anything, it was the confidence that I can really do whatever I wish to if I work hard enough. My hard work has helped me realize what I really want to do is become a doctor.”

-14 year old Pooja is a Swabhiman Scholar studying in 9th Grade in Bengaluru.

Like Pooja, Swabhiman provides educational support to exceptionally talented girls through full scholarships to complete their schooling and aslo provides support for their higher education. In addition to this, the young girls are provided exposure and opportunities for holistic development to help them succeed in all spheres of life.

In addition a two day learning fest for these talented young girls is also held to help them explore themselves completely and shape their own lives. With a view of making them self-aware, confident and take full charge of their own development, interactive and self exploration workshops are conducted to empower them with various life skills. They are helped by experts to develop their personality, interpersonal relationships and studies. 

So far, Swabhiman has successfully made a difference to the lives of over 500,000 women and girl children.

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Author

Shyamalima Kalita

Shyamalima works as Communication Officer with Smile Foundation.

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