INDIA: Women from Slums of Mumbai Access Skills Training through Don Bosco Development Society
(MissionNewswire) At the end of January, 268 women from the slums of Mumbai, a densely populated city on India’s west coast, graduated from a Salesian-run 45-day skills training course. The women took courses in basic computing, English, tailoring, garment making, beauty care, hair dressing and mehndi (henna) application. The goal of the training was to help participants become better prepared for employment.
The Don Bosco Development Society in Mumbai which works to empower women in poverty to gain the skills and confidence they need to seek work, facilitated the training. For many of the participants, this was the first time they received educational training since the basic education they received when they were young. Salesian missionaries conducting the program modeled it after Skill India, an initiative by the Government of India’s Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship.
Salesian missionaries living and working in India and in more than 130 countries around the globe are focused on achieving gender equality though education and workforce development programs targeted specifically for women and girls. These programs strive to empower women and girls by providing opportunities for education and training that leads to livable wage employment. Many women attending the 45-day course initially struggled to balance the demands of the training with their responsibilities at home but eventually found the time and confidence to successfully complete the program.
“In the beginning we were hesitating,” said one student who completed the program. “Since some of us are housewives it was difficult to give time because of housework, cooking and small children.”
After the course was completed, many of the students noted that through the course they gained a sense of self-worth that they had not had before. They also felt that the skills and confidence they gained would enable them to earn a living and support their families.
“Women face many disadvantages and barriers to accessing education and achieving financial independence despite their huge potential,” says Father Rolvin D’Mello, executive director of the Don Bosco Development Society. “It is very important for girls to attend school and gain an education. Girls that are empowered though education are more often able to achieve financial independence, provide additional financial support within their households and make healthier choices that affect not only themselves, but their families and communities as well.”
With more than 1.2 billion people, India has the world’s fourth largest economy and according to UNICEF, is home to one-third of the world’s poor. Close to 217 million of India’s poor are children. Although more than 53 million people escaped poverty between 2005 and 2010, most remain vulnerable to falling back below the poverty line.
India’s youth face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed a secondary education. In addition, too many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
UNICEF – India