Every day is about women at Deepalaya! We as an organization are committed to empowering women through education, skill development, gender sensitization and welfare programs that cater to their gender specific needs. However International Women’s Day is extremely special for all of us. It is on this day they come together to celebrate, learn, sing, dance and do group activities to celebrate their inherent power. It is just like any other feast at home. International Women’s Day 2021 was no different. They did come together to celebrate, to learn, to renew their commitment to themselves; all while adhering to Covid-19 protocols.
United Nations Organization’s campaign theme for International Women’s Day, 2021 is ‘Choose to Challenge’. This is a call to challenge patriarchy and all that hinders a woman from living a life with equality and dignity. Deepalaya too chooses to challenge the existing patriarchal, discriminative and oppressive society. We choose to educate and empower women with knowledge and life skills so that they can be masters of their destiny. Through our girl child education projects, vocational training, gender-specific life skill education, awareness programs and healthcare projects. Here’s what happened at various locations, this women’s day.
It was a proud moment for us when two of our students from Deepalaya Children’s home participated and won at Haryana State level competition on the Girl Child Day, January 24th. Khushi won 1st prize in the Spot painting competition and Pinki won the 2nd prize in the Singing competition. On 8th March, they were felicitated on the occasion of International Women’s Day celebrations in the presence of the Honorable Chief Minister of Haryana and the State Women and Child Development Minister. The online program was attended by all the representatives of districts of Haryana.
A two-day legal aid workshop and legal counseling sessions was held for the female students on the 8th and 9th March as part of International Women’s Day celebrations. Adv. Neha Jain from West District Legal Service Authority conducted the workshop and provided free legal counseling. She spoke on women’s safety and women’s rights. 30 students participated in the event and many approached Adv. Neha Jain for legal counseling regarding sexual harassment and cyber bullying. She promised legal help from West DLSA for those students who required legal help. It was an interesting way of educating women about their rights and raise their voice against injustice.
The students and the teachers at Gole Kuan celebrated International Women’s Day by felicitating women, albeit mothers of the children enrolled with us. It was a special occasion for these women as they were honored for being what they are. Perhaps they never received such respect before. They left the impressions of their hands on the board which will be hung in the learning center. The students from the virtual classes too participated in the celebrations and wished their teachers by sending cards and drawings.
The students of Deepalaya Learning Centre, Sanjay celebrated Women’s day with cultural events and a fashion show. The girls and women enrolled in Project Hope Hope wore the clothes designed by those enrolled in Fashion designing course while their make-up was done by Beauty & Wellness students. The students enjoyed while putting up their best and their teachers felt proud. They had a sense of gratification to see the beautiful dress designs and the professional make-up. No doubt, many women have already started earning some money even before the course completion.
International Women’s Day at Government High School Phase-5 Mohali, adopted under Project Parivartan was celebrated with cultural programs and discussions on women. Ms. Amol Kaur, Program Coordinator, delivered a Power Point Presentation on the topic of gender roles and how the society sees women. Two separate sessions were conducted for students of Class VI and Class VII. A short poem titled ‘Kaash! Main ladki hoti’ (If only, I were a girl) was recited at the very outset which threw open the issue of gender bias, stereotypes and expectations that the society imposes on the girls. The students, especially the girls, participated actively and spoke on how they are treated as mere subordinates to the men in their family. Health, Education, Political Participation, human rights, and basic economic well-being of women became topics of discussion.
The crafts prepared by the mothers of the children under the Girl child project left the Project head and teachers spell bound. The mothers participated in various activities while being at their home. They prepared beautiful craftworks with vegetables and wool showcasing their talent as a part of women’s day celebration.
Project WEL NETRITAV
The inauguration of Project Wel Netritav (CSR collaboration between Deepalaya and Welspun Foundation) along with Women’s Day celebration might seem coincidental but fitting, given the fact that the project is being implemented in Sonepat region of Haryana. It is known for its skewed sex-ratio. A survey that Deepalaya conducted showed that 24 per cent of the adolescent girls, have dropped out of school or were never sent to school. Out of this a glaring 24 per cent could not continue their education as they were married off at an early age while 31 per cent succumbed to family pressure. The project aims at bringing a behavioral change amongst the stakeholders and making them aware on the benefits of having educated and empowered girls. It also aims at equipping the girls on important life skills like decision-making, leadership, inter-personal communication, critical thinking, personal health & hygiene, more importantly self-defense. The project is certainly challenging as it will question many existing traditions and customs.
The inaugural programme was conducted at Government Middle school, Bahalgarh in the presence of representatives from both Deepalaya and Welspun. The function came as a blessing in disguise for the girls studying in the school as they could participate in a number of activities, be it singing, dancing or expressing their feelings through drawing. Their eyes spoke of the dreams they have for themselves. Their poems, songs, dances, speeches all shouted how they long to be valued, cherished and respected. The guests emphasized on the importance of education, gender equality and healthcare. The project was inaugurated on 9th March, 2021 in the presence of Mr. A.J. Philip, Chief Executive Deepalaya, Ms. Shilpa Jaiswal, CSR Head, Welspun Enterprises, Ms. Jaswant Kaur, Executive Director, Mr. Virender Singh Kadian, Assistant Manager (Programmes), Ms. Sharda Rani, school head, Mr. Rohatash, village Sarpanch. Mr. Arjun Lal (Retd. Head teacher) was the Chief Guest. Among others present were ASHA workers, Anganwari workers, ANM and young peer educators, who helped Deepalaya team in conducting the baseline survey. This marked the beginning of a project that will touch the lives of more than 2000 adolescents and girls.