Updated: Jun 28
Every year, Shaastra, the annual technical festival of Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Madras, strives to play its part in giving back to society. She Can is a Shaastra initiative, led by a team of 14 students sharing a common goal, that is, to make our country a better place to live in. We believe that education and mentorship have the power to push young people in the right direction, especially in India where many young people still remain uneducated. This has always been our north star.
There’s an empowering quote by Maya Angelou which says “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” This quote perfectly sums up our situation in the beginning of last year. We wanted to start a social campaign for our fellowship project as part of the annual technical festival of IIT Madras, but the Covid-19 outbreak uprooted the lives we knew, and in the process totally spoiled our Millennium Fellowship project plans. But, in Maya Angelou’s words, we could not let these events reduce us. And so all 14 of us brainstormed about how we could make the most of this situation, and that is how "She Can", came to life. An SDG 4, (Quality Education) and SDG 5, (Gender Equality) project, She Can is a movement centered around women empowerment through education and upskilling by giving them access to information about the many opportunities available to them. We hope to motivate women and girls in India to explore, to figure out their dreams, then create ideal conditions to enable them make these dreams a reality. The point is to show the world that woman is not limited. That She is not less than a man. That whatever “She Can” dream, she can become.
"The point is to show the world that woman is not limited. That She is not less than a man. That whatever “She Can” dream, she can become."
The spirit of the sustainable goals is to create a world with equality of opportunity to all people regardless of background. For far too long, women and girls have been marginalized and sidelined by our societies. This must change. We believe that every girl should know about all opportunities available at her disposal and not consider her gender as a disqualification or a hindrance. So we implemented career counselling sessions for young school girls to give them exposure to various career options and, more importantly, to hear from trailblazing women; those who are shaking up the corporate status quo by conquering previously male dominated spaces, and those that took up jobs considered ‘unconventional’. We also noticed the wide gap between the number of men and women entrepreneurs in India, and therefore decided to initiate entrepreneurship enlightenment sessions for college girls to motivate them to start their own ventures. On top of this we also conducted financial literacy sessions for working women to make them understand the importance of proper financial management. So far, we’ve impacted the lives of 600+ women through career counseling sessions, entrepreneurship talks and financial literacy sessions.
Since its founding, ‘She Can’ has been featured on various national media platforms such as the Hindu, Times Now and NDTV. We’ve also been recognized by the Indian Ministry of Education and the Hon. Education Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal.
While we remain proud of the progress we’ve made and the goals we’ve achieved, we realize that there’s still a long way to go. This is true especially in developing countries, where women are still marginalized and underrepresented. In places like these, where patriarchy and its systems have taken root, young people must go above and beyond to empower women through education and upskilling.
"In places like these, where patriarchy and its systems have taken root, young people must go above and beyond to empower women through education and upskilling."
Even in India, this war is far from won. Statistics say that only 13% of Indian women have gone past primary education. We are laying concrete plans for the project and hope to expand it across various age groups and social strata.
Still, for how far we’ve come, we owe deep gratitude to the Millennium Campus Network! Our project being accepted into the Millennium Fellowship strengthened our belief and hardened our resolve. The continuous guidance and assessment of the project throughout those 4 months laid the groundwork for us. The skills and values taught provided the springboard upon which we built this movement.
"The continuous guidance and assessment of the project throughout those 4 months laid the groundwork for us. The skills and values taught provided the springboard upon which we built this movement"
Thank you for believing in this vision, and for helping us mold it to respond to the needs of our communities. Thank you also for providing the platform, the transformative curriculum, and the connections that allowed us to get in touch with like-minded fellows from all over the world who are also passionate about the SDGs. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for making all this possible.
Thank you "She Can" for sharing your inspiring story. Millennium Fellows, if you have a story you feel our community should hear, please reach us here: firstname.lastname@example.org