Women with a Vision: Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

 

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Article by Abigail Terhaar, Clinton Fellow 

I grew up in a family of pioneering women, in a state, which was ranked as the 49th lowest performing state for women in the U.S. (out of 50). Less than 24 percent of women from Louisiana go on to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher[1] and at 12.5% we have the lowest percentage of women in our state legislature. But despite these indicators, there’s my maternal grandmother who worked as a nurse with her BSN, my paternal grandmother who has her Ph.D., and my mom who ran her own business. I recently learned that my great grandmother was the first person in her family to go to college and later abruptly left her small-town one school district as a teacher when she found out she wasn’t being paid equal to men. It was two women, Ms. Kelsey, my high school English teacher and Dr. Vanessa Bouche, one of my college professors who inspired me work internationally. I even chose my college major because of a woman, Senator Landrieu, who through a chance meeting when I was 8 years old ignited my interest in politics. I was lucky, despite coming from a location where statistically most women don’t graduate from college, for my family it was a priority and I didn’t face obstacles to receiving an education.

 

Before coming to India, I had only vaguely heard of International Women’s Day. However, upon the first March 8th I spent here, I realized that it was quite the celebration. Here, the women who inspire me most are the ones who may seem ordinary to some but are revolutionary in their families and communities. There’s my coworker, Shalet, who was the first person in her family to graduate from college and became a senior reporter at The New Indian Express before joining the NGO sector. Kalyani*, one of our students who was married at age 11 and has joined our center at age 30 in hopes of taking up her first job. Kavitha*, one of our interns, who despite familial pressures to not work and get married, worked at a large software company and is now pursuing her MBA.

In honor of this International Women’s Day, I was privileged to participate in a “roadshow” or march organized by one of our skills training centers to spread awareness about education women and about our program to develop skills and employ young adults. Carrying a loudspeaker playing Kannada tunes and proclaiming messages of equal education for women, we traversed the neighborhood, distributed roses and received quite a few smiles and well wishes in return. One women’s rights enthusiast we met, Mr. Leslie proclaimed, “Women are the best part of the country, if they are not coming forward, than the country will go backwards. You have to give full respect to women; they are the ones who brought people into the world. That’s the main thing!” Throughout my life and across the world, I have been fortunate to interact with numerous inspirational women and also men who champion the cause.

To see our Women’s Day roadshow in action, watch the video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2Mnl_39vsI

 

[1] “STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE STATES” Institute For Women’s Policy Research (2015) Web. https://statusofwomendata.org/explore-the-data/state-data/louisiana/

*Names changed for confidentially reasons

The blog was first published in http://aif.org/2017/03/women-with-a-vision-celebrating-international-womens-day-2017/

Volunteering – Pratishtha workshop on ‘ Effective Internet Search’

 “If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever”– Kofi AnnanKshitij 1

Kshitij Agarwal is a busy professional working with Intel but his commitment towards a good cause made him a volunteer. To help the students of Pratishtha, the skill development training centre of Reaching Hand, he volunteered to lead a workshop called “ Effective Internet Search” on March 18, 2017.

 

The sessions covered tips for Google searching, identifying fake information on the internet and utilizing online tools for daily life such as booking bus and train tickets.

He also showed the students how to edit a ‘Wikipedia’ page and asked not to trust everything they read online. In order to verify information, he told students to check multiple sources and see if they match.

His power point presentation showed live Google searches to refine results and help students find the information they need online. Kshitij made sure of the students’ involvement by asking them to do several tasks online especially, asking them to book a train or bus to the destination of their choice and consult multiple websites to find the fastest and cheapest option. This was done using tablets and students’ smartphones.

The students remarked that the workshop was of immense help as they have now learned to check multiple sources online.

Ends