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"Women’s Development is happening in India; but in pockets"

Smile Foundation and British Council (Springboard Programme) concluded the first series of capacity building workshops for career women under their Women’s Development Programme. Today’s was the fourth and the final workshop in the series. All the participants had attended all four workshops, which were complementary. Incidentally, the programme has been successful in the UK and has won the prestigious UK ‘National Training Award’.

The major objective behind the programme was how to take control of life, both professional and personal. The other important focus areas include Confidence Building, Conflict Resolution, Self-awareness, Motivation, Balancing Home and Work, Managing one’s Image, Cultivating Assertiveness and Setting Goals.

Ms. Santosh Yadav, Padmashri, Arjuna Awardee and Record holding woman mountaineer and Everest Heroine was the Special Guest & Role Model in the workshop. Prof. Monica Das, University of Delhi, Author and Exponent of Gender Issue and Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Chief Psychologist, Escorts Heart Institute & Research centre and Consultant, Dharamshila Cancer Institute were two other guests who conducted different sessions during the workshop and motivated the participants.

“I feel surprised when I look back and realize that I successfully scaled Mount Everest twice,” admits Santosh, who has a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the only women in the world to have conquered Mt. Everest twice. “I saw snow for the first time only in 1986 but conquered the highest and toughest peak twice in 1993 and 1994. If you feel you can do it, the way to the top is not impossible,” opined Santosh, who is also an officer with the Indo-Tibet Boarder Police (ITBP).

“Climbing Everest was difficult. But making my way through social stigma was more difficult as mountaineering tests your physical stamina but social stigma tests your mental and psychological strength,” says Santosh, who hails from an obscure Haryana village.

“Women’s development in India is happening in Indian society but in pockets,” says Prof. Monica Das, educationist, author and exponent of gender issue. “With almost half of India are women, half of our society needs to be empowered,” she added.

“It’s in-built with women to be the fairer and better sex,” says Dr. Bhavna Barmi, Chief Psychologist, Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre. “Every facet is important for a woman than her own need. We must change that,” she added.

Lalima Aneja Dang, a radio jockey and newsreader who participated in all the workshop says, “I got empowered but more importantly I got much clarity in that regard from this programme. The design of the programme made me so connected to it.”

Dr. Rita Nagpal, a Govt. of India official and another participant feels, “Initially I came to the programme for curiosity’s sake without having an idea of the design. But I am pleased at the end of it.” She adds, “The component of involving role models throughout the programme was innovative and it gave us an opportunity to have a real insight in to women’s empowerment.”

Sujata Dehury, a participant and a journalist by profession, opines, “This was my first ever women’s empowerment workshop. The diverse age groups of participants helped us gain expertise and experience.”

Arpana Ruth, one of the Springboard trainers says, “It’s wonderful to be an aware and empowered woman. During the programme I also learned a lot from the participants. I must thank Smile Foundation on behalf of Springboard to make this programme so successful.”

Dr. Neerja Chand, the main Springboard trainer states, “The homogeneous group of participants from different walks of life and the kinds of Role Models were nowhere there in previous Springboard workshop. These components made this programme look fantastic and very successful.”

The conclusion of the fourth workshop successfully completed the first series of SMILE-Springboard Women’s Development Programme in New Delhi.

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