In today's world, acquiring knowledge and awareness of one's rights is of paramount importance, particularly for women who continue to encounter social and economic challenges. In Rajasthan, a land of warriors and royalty known for its palaces and forts, there exist inspiring untold stories of women, specifically those from Dungarpur, who have managed to overcome obstacles and achieve independence. These women in Dungarpur have defied societal norms and barriers to pursue their dreams and establish themselves as independent individuals. Their stories serve as powerful examples of resilience and determination, highlighting the significance of education and self-awareness in the ongoing struggle for gender equality and empowerment through Project Manzil of IPE Global.
Project Manzil with support from Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, is being implemented by IPE Global in partnership with the Government of Rajasthan. Project Manzil aims to provide girls aged 14-21 years in six districts of Rajasthan, India, with access to high-quality vocational and skill education. The ultimate goal is to empower these young girls, enabling them to make independent choices in their lives. By doing so, the project seeks to address critical issues such as preventing early marriages and delaying the age at which they become mothers. In essence, Project Manzil strives to break societal barriers and empower young girls with the skills and knowledge necessary to shape their own futures.
Dungarpur, located in the southernmost region of Rajasthan, India, has earned recognition not only for its rapid development but also for its endeavors in empowering women both educationally and financially. Recently, a team from UdaipurTimes had the opportunity to visit this city and engage with women who are taking significant strides towards independence. These women are not only augmenting their skills but also gaining financial autonomy, thanks to the impactful Project Manzil. In the backdrop of India's persistent challenges concerning tribal women in rural areas, it is commendable to witness the transformation occurring in Dungarpur. Even in urban settings, some women face resistance when pursuing education and employment opportunities. However, the tribal families of Dungarpur are breaking stereotypes by actively supporting the empowerment of their women. These women are not only enhancing their skillsets but are also securing their livelihoods through Project Manzil.
During our conversation with Sarpanch Sangeeta Devi of Bichiwada Block, Dungarpur, she emphasized the challenges involved in convincing girls and their families to prioritize education and employment. However, she noted that Project Manzil has played a pivotal role in raising awareness about women's rights and facilitating this transformation.
Interaction With Working Women
Project Manzil in collaboration with the Government of Rajasthan is making remarkable strides in empowering women across various sectors, including the automotive industry, retail, IT, and operation of sweeping machines. This initiative offers free, six-month training programs to women, facilitating their entry into the workforce. Notably, some women choose to work on a residential basis, while others opt for non-residential roles, with their salaries contingent on this choice.
The core mission of Project Manzil extends beyond training; it actively engages in identifying and aligning with the aspirations of these young women. By connecting them to suitable training opportunities and enhancing the quality of skill-based education, the project is a catalyst for transformative change. Moreover, it plays a pivotal role in providing accurate information to these girls, arming them with the knowledge and tools to navigate their path to independence. Additionally, Project Manzil is committed to creating dignified employment opportunities, thereby challenging and dismantling regressive societal norms at the community level.
Varsha Katara, a 21-year-old, currently resides in Gujarat's vibrant city of Ahmedabad, where she is employed at Yazaki, specializing in wiring work. Despite hailing from the Dungarpur village, Varsha has transcended geographical boundaries to pursue her aspirations. She holds a 12th-grade qualification and, during the lockdown in 2020, honed her skills in stitching for a period of three months.
Presently, Varsha is concurrently pursuing a B.A. degree while residing in a paying guest (PG) accommodation in Ahmedabad. Remarkably, her PG expenses amount to a mere Rs. 1000, where she shares living space with three other young women. Varsha's journey towards independence and self-sufficiency serves as an inspiration, prompting seven more girls from her village to follow in her footsteps. This collective transformation has led eight girls from her village to seek employment opportunities beyond their hometown.
In a tribal area where such progressive family values are a rarity, Varsha's story stands out as a testament to her family's belief in providing equal opportunities for their daughters to pursue careers and personal growth outside their familiar surroundings. Five more girls have benefited from Project Manzil, receiving education and job training. One of these girls is named Teena Parmar, who aspires to pursue a career in retail in the future and is presently employed at Reliance Trends in Dungarpur at the age of 20. Teena Roth resides in Mara Gamri and completed her B.A. degree in 2019. She became associated with Project Manzil and is currently employed in the retail and call center sectors. Previously, she worked in Gandhinagar (Ahmedabad) for one and a half years and is currently employed at Swatantra Micro Finance. Teena's father is a farmer.
Twenty-four girls from Dungarpur heading towards Ahmedabad on 5 September, 2023 for employment opportunities. Some of them are already trained, while others are undergoing training. They will receive a monthly salary of Rs 13000 in hand and one month of food and accommodation during their stay.
Interaction with Dungarpur’s Collector
Mr. L.N. Mantri, the Collector of Dungarpur City expressed the commitment of the administration to promote girls' education, vocational skills, and awareness of their rights. He personally engaged with each girl, offering encouragement and motivation to help them progress in their lives.
Project Manzil has extended its reach to over 1,000 villages in six districts, including Udaipur, Jaipur, Ajmer, Tonk, Dungarpur and Bhilwara. Project Manzil has provided market-driven and aspirational vocational skills training to more than 95,000 girls. Additionally, it has offered apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and job opportunities to over 28,000 girls.