Aatmaja Foundation

Focus: Children and Youth, Education, Girl Child, Livelihoods

DISADVANTAGED girls are usually the first casualties of the education system. Aatmaja believe that by investing in the schooling of India's daughters, they are empowering agents of change within communities.

Girls in India are regularly denied opportunities to reach their full potential. The statistics are startling: only 47% of adolescent girls in India enrol in secondary school, 18% of whom drop out before even completing.

This loss of education not only leads to early marriage and early pregnancy, but also attributes to a loss of $7.7 billion in GDP. Yet, when just 10% more girls attend school, a country’s GDP increases by 3%.

Aatmaja, meaning “my daughter”, partner with local high schools around Pune to enable bright students with fewer resources to become successful professionals, bettering themselves, their families and their communities.

Under their Udaan programme, teenaged girls from marginalised communities are provided financial assistance towards their education, career and personal counselling, and guidance and coaching for up to eight years till they find good employment.

Mentors work with the youth to identify their interests, build a strong foundation of values, sharpen their professional skills, provide them with basic knowledge to be successful personally and professionally, and maximise their support systems through the encouragement of fellow “aatmajas”.

Bhavana came from a modest background, living in a joint family, where her father’s wages alone - as an autorickshaw driver - was the only source of income. Thanks to Aatmaja’s merit- and need-based programme, she was able to remain in school alongside her brother.

Now 16 year old Bhavana says: “I have learned many more things from the skills development, personality and values workshops. Career counselling sessions helped me find a way to reach my goals.”

Aatmaja believe that simply investing in girls, thereby enhancing India’s human capital, will help build the nation from the ground up and create a strong support system for other young women to achieve success.

Help the foundation continue to build their network of “aatmajas” that will help girls turn passions into careers.

Help Aatmaja Foundation change lives

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All my daughter’s education expenses are paid by the Aatmaja Foundation. My big burden is reduced now, and I can fulfil my younger child's needs and education. Aatmaja is helping her to achieve her goals by making her more and more confident.

Sheela Kambale, mother of student recipient, Pune

Since last two years my school fees, extra classes fees and book expenses are paid by Aatmaja Foundation. Their career counselling helped me to choose the right one to fulfil my dreams, and different types of workshops make me more perfect and confident.

Priyanka Deshpande,16 years, student recipient, Pune

Aatmaja are enriching the lives of not only the girls but also their families. They work with the girls every step of the way. I'm sure when these girls are ready to join the workforce they will possess all the skills and confidence to work effectively.

Rajesh Raman, Aatmaja supporter, Pune