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.