Indian girls have untapped potential: Report

Soft skills training can enhance their employability

geetanjali

Geetanjali Minhas | March 7, 2017 | Mumbai


#empowerment   #employability   #Adolescent girls   #resist early marriage   #pregnancies  


One in every 10 Indian is an adolescent girl. Consequently, India hosts nearly 20 percent of the world’s population of adolescent girls and each and every one of them has the potential to contribute to India’s future economy, says the report, ‘Best Foot Forward: Enhancing the Employability of India’s Adolescent  Girls’ by Dasra, an NGO.

The report commissioned by Bank of America points out that India’s disadvantaged adolescent girls stifled by social and economic challenges, struggle to claim their place in one of the fastest growing economies in the world and become self-sufficient .
“Entire sections of rural India are cut off from national economy and the workforce participation rate for Indian women is 29% which is far less than that of comparable economies like China(70%), US(66% ) or Brazil (65%). Better skilled youth and concerted efforts to bring rural youth and women into workforce require concerted efforts.”
 
For many marginalised girls in India, there is lack of control over decisions that determine the course of their lives, restriction on mobility and limited access to public spaces, interrupted education, inability to challenge social norms, resisting early marriage and pregnancies, vulnerability to violence at home and in labour market and increasingly limited opportunities to acquire skills needed to build financial security or independence.
 
The report findings show that school curricula in India is not designed to help marginalised  girls to  access or create  income generating opportunities  and employability programs  so as to help plug this gap by supplementing school education  with training in hard and soft skills.  It adds that programs initiated under the Skills India Campaign  and those run under Ministry of Skills Development and Entrepreneurship  focus purely  on hard skills training for youth  without accounting  for challenges like restrictions on mobility  and social pressure to get married that young women face. It also  points out that  few non-profit  and government interventions  are currently working  with economically marginalised,  disabled  and adolescent  girls including  those living in areas of conflict, belonging to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes or those  with disabilities.
 
The findings recommend  employability programmes to  enable adolescent girls  understand and articulate their needs with parents, relatives, community members and other key decision makers in their lives  and successfully negotiate for their rights. Employability  programs that influence a cultural  change in perceptions  around  women’s roles  with a consolidated  long term focus  on overturning  gender norms  that negate a young women’s earning potential and ability to participate as decision makers. 
 
It calls for the  government schools to make curriculum  more relevant  by establishing clear links with  school education and higher economic  returns for adolescent girls and their families. The report also calls for employability programs to create open spaces for girls  to interact  with their peers, learn from each other  and  isolated girls to draw strength From these social networks. Connect girls struggling to articulate their concerns with mentors  they can confide in and learn from  including  skills like computer training, book-keeping, accounting and driving  that defy stereotypes and provide wider range of income generating opportunities.
 
“Women are most likely to invest their assets in their children and improve inter-generational development outcomes,” it says.
It also calls  for  introducing effective implementation of policies on sexual harassment, maternity benefits  and crèche facilities for young mothers, promoting   gender equality  at workplaces for  protective and supportive work environment  including focussed modules on  entrepreneurship, skills training within  the curricula  of employability  programs   to  build girls capacity for problem solving, management  of finances. It also asks for people and resource  mobilisation and  evaluating   non-profit  interventions  and government programs  so that gaps  and best practises are identified.
 
“Hence there is clear policy- level need for investing in girls and providing them with economic alternatives that allow them to build identities apart  from their roles as future wives and mothers,” says the report. 
 

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