Inspiring Young Women to Become Leaders

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Key Facts
As on 31 March 2016

RGMVP mobilises Young Women's Self Help Groups (YWSHGs) because young women face a unique set of barriers that need to be specifically addressed and overcome to make strides against poverty and gender-based violence. In addition, working with young women is a faster way to address societal problems, given young women have yet to receive the same level of conditioning and restrictions as married women, and their passions for addressing the inequalities in their midst have yet to be extinguished by oppression from their families and community systems. Many of the young women RGMVP works with have mothers in SHGs, which ensures that a support system is already in place for collaboration between adult women SHGs and young women SHGs to overcome subjugation.

The YWSHGs assist adult SHGs with book keeping and financial inclusion aspects of SHG functioning, which allows illiterate adult women to gain support while also giving young women experiential learning experience. Adult SHGs also support the YWSHGs by throwing their collective strength behind the young women when they are facing problems. For example, one young woman described how a member of her YWSHG was being forced into a child marriage, but due to the pressure from the YWSHG and adult SHG on the parents, they relented, called off the marriage, and put the girl back in school.

Beginning to develop young women's independence and abilities to express themselves is crucial. Thus, RGMVP trains young women in financial management and livelihood activities such as bank linkages, stitching, embroidery work, and stuffed toy manufacturing. The training lays a foundation of not just important life skills but also of confidence.

Given the immense need for accurate information about health, nutrition, and menstrual hygiene, RGMVP conducts workshops and information sessions, in addition to distributing resources for young women on these topics. RGMVP also links the YWSHGs to government facilitates so they can access their entitlements.

Lastly, RGMVP recently conducted a journalism and empowerment workshop, in which young women were trained in the importance of self-expression, documenting and voicing the truth, and telling their stories. RGMVP anticipates taking forward these messages by launching a monthly YWSHG newsletter that can be distributed to all the YWSHGs and will contain writings and art the young women have created themselves and wish to share with each other.

RGMVP is also in the process of creating an activity book curriculum for the YWSHGs and building a cadre of apprentice young women's trainers. The activity book will disseminate important information more widely, in addition to providing discussion questions and activities that can help guide their weekly meetings and develop their soft skills. The cadre trainings will create apprentice trainers on:

The training will not only equip them with knowledge, but also challenge them, through experiential methods, to nurture their leadership potential. Apprentice trainers will lead training programmes of their own in their communities, access opportunities to build their facilitation capabilities, and serve as role models for the young women around them.