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Women Empowerment
Published on: Feb. 13, 2020, 4:25 p.m.
Sterlite Tech's skill development courses go beyond vocational training
  • Jeewan Jyoti equips women with financial knowledge

By Business India Editorial

terlite Tech (STL), the data network solutions provider, runs a Jeewan Jyoti Women Empowerment programme (JJWEP) that offers skill enhancement courses in nursing care, computer data entry, beauty parlour, tailoring, cutting and fashion designing, for rural women. Each of these courses is certified by the Maharashtra State Board for Vocational Education (MSBVE). Employee volunteering and strategic tie-ups with professional institutions and NGOs equip these women to be at par with their urban counterparts.

The JJWEP initiative goes beyond vocational training. It aims to provide rural women with a comprehensive programme that equips them with economic, social and financial knowledge. It was set up in 2014 in Ambavane, taluka Velhe (Maharashtra) to reach out to rural women in Pune and villages around the city and empower them with skills to gain livelihood opportunities. Under this program, Self Help Groups for women are trained in micro-financing opportunities. JJWEP also holds courage-building exercises and games to build conversational skills and confidence. Annual educational visits and participation in fairs and exhibitions to showcase products made by these women are also encouraged.

Due to the unavailability of public transport in the region, students’ transportation is arranged to the venue. Students can bring their children along, who stay at the in-house crèche during class hours. The premises are gated and an all-women staff provides comfort and safety to the students. To increase health awareness around sanitation and hygiene for women, off-campus programmes are conducted for women of all age groups. Informal sessions are conducted to provide pre-marriage counselling as well as prenatal care for pregnant women.

A number of students have set up their own businesses in tailoring and personal care. The institute facilitates the students in availing government schemes for setting up of their businesses. JJWEP also provides internships to the top three students from the computer course to ensure they receive the exposure and experience of working in a corporate. To reduce the rate of dropouts, the programme has charged a nominal fee for the past two years. STL’s employees also play an active role by training the students in areas like soft-skills, interview preparedness, digital awareness, computer literacy, and other such aspects through mentoring sessions.

Several taboos like women should not ride bicycles, made it difficult to engage girls in exercise. However, after conducting awareness sessions for the students, they not only conducted a rally across villages to do away with this taboo but have been able to convince their families as well. Another challenge was the reluctance of families to send their daughters/daughters-in-law to learn. Multiple awareness sessions, household visits and other such activities were needed to convince them of the need to educate the women in the village and its benefit to their families.

What started off with 40 students from 20 villages in 2014 now covers around over 100 villages across three talukas of Bhor, Velhe and Haveli in Maharashtra. Over 1,300 rural women have been covered by the programme and over 6,700 people have been impacted indirectly through the students from the institute. The programme today has more students who are married women and younger girls. The pass-out rate has improved drastically from 76 per cent in 2016 to 100 per cent in 2019. Sterlite aims to convert the JJWEP into a Centre of Excellence that would enhance income generation opportunities for women and make more of them self-reliant.

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