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Coach them young: Girls turn career intentional

Monday October 11, 2021, By Diversity Digest

On International Day of The Girl Child marked on October 11, Diversity Digest brings glimpses of a unique program, Project Puthri, which works with girls from underserved sections to help them turn career intentional.

Set to finish her schooling in a year, Deepikashree had little thoughts about her future. However, enrolling in Puthri sessions has given her a sense of direction, and she aspires to be a sportswoman—a kickboxer. After completing her schooling, Preethishree has now set her heart on pursuing Zoology. Once a nervous girl, two years of Puthri intervention have helped her shed her inhibitions and also emerge second in a speech competition.

The two teenagers are among the hundreds witnessing a transformation in their lives, turning focused and intentional about their careers. Project Puthri, an initiative by Avtar Human Capital Trust, is a career-intentionality program for adolescent girls from underserved communities studying in government-run and corporation schools. Puthri imparts life skills and helps them get inspired by real-life role models. Over the last four years, Puthri has reached out to thousands of girls from over 60 schools across Chennai, Chengalpet, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Coimbatore, and Pondicherry.

Aligned with SDGs

In line with sustainable development goals (SDGs), Puthri offers attitudinal training for over five years. Girls from classes 8 to 12 are oriented with their capabilities through classroom sessions, games, and corporate exposure, preventing drop-outs, building meaningful relationships, and developing necessary skills. The sessions steer them towards white-collar jobs to help them come out of poverty. Through mentoring and training till 18 years and till they complete their graduation, they are enabled to make decisions in life, including marriage, childbirth, etc., by bringing down infant mortality rates, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. Health and hygiene education stresses healthy eating habits and how it will lead to healthy children and raise them better for a brighter future. Empowering them with digital knowledge, the initiative focuses on contributing to the GDP through gender parity.

The program also offers scholarship assistance for select beneficiaries to pursue graduation and nurtures high potential Puthris with internships, one-one mentoring, innovation, and entrepreneurship opportunities. They also get a chance to pursue a job during their graduation through “earn while you learn”.

The Covid challenge

With the pandemic, an elaborate outreach initiative would have been difficult to pull off. However, the challenge turned into an opportunity with virtual Puthri sessions, including special sessions from industry professionals, celebration events, etc. Over 400 hours of interventions were completed, alongside Puthri parents training programs, mentor training events, teacher’s training program, and Career Coaching sessions schools.

With generating, spotting, and sustaining interest in science and technology among the girls being a major area of focus, sessions on STEM education and employment awareness were held during this period.

Udyog Utsav, the yearly career visioning conference, helps them gain insights on various careers opportunities available in industries. The event has experts from health, manufacturing, and IT, to name a few, sharing insights into opportunities for women in each sector.

As physical classrooms are back, the Puthri journey continues on its mission to empower more girls focusing on quality education, gender equality, and reduced inequalities through a hybrid model of virtual and physical sessions.

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Diversity Digest
Diversity Digest
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