Speaking about it doesn’t matter but doing something and showing people is what matters.
- Priya, a young woman of Shadhika
Due to systemic poverty and patriarchal pressures, college education and vocational training remain out of reach for many young women in India, undermining their ability to disrupt systems that uphold gender-based discrimination and violence.
Through our Scholarship Program, Shadhika provides college and vocational scholarships to young women who have demonstrated academic potential and excellent leadership to promote girls’ rights in their own communities. In addition to full tuition and a living stipend, Shadhika Scholars are eligible to receive English tutoring and a comprehensive technology package that covers the cost of a computer, internet access, and computer literacy classes. Through 2030, Shadhika will expand the scope of the Scholarship program to improve the likelihood of job placement upon college graduation among Shadhika Scholars.
In addition to providing scholarship funds, Shadhika nurtures opportunities for Scholars to expand their leadership skills, their social capital, and their personal horizon.
Community Leadership ProjectsA real-life opportunity for each Scholar to practice their leadership skills to create change in their local contexts. These projects have been on topics ranging from Right to Education, food security, ending child marriage, menstrual hygiene, documentation, and technology.
Leaders for Change SummitAn annual gathering designed by Scholars to fully manifest their individual and collective power. Shadhika Scholars have the opportunity to meet national and international women leaders and mentors, and receive training on an array of leadership skills while collaborating with their peers on strategies to advance girls’ rights and transform their communities.
Alum NetworkA dynamic and growing network of Alum of the Shadhika Scholarship program, to facilitate continued support beyond the bounds of the Scholarship program. The network provides a platform for Alum to connect with peers, collaborate on leadership opportunities, and provide critical support to each other.
86%Shadhika Scholars have been placed into jobs or are pursuing advanced degrees.
(compared to 22.3% of women who participate in the labour market nationally)
100%Scholars have computer and internet access.
(nationally, only 33% of internet users are women)
100%Scholars graduated in 2021.
(compared to a national enrollment ratio of female students of 27.3%)
“Most people think this field is only for boys."
I wish to do an MBA or study in the field of business because one sees extremely few girls. Most people think this field is only for boys. I want to be a trailblazer for girls in my community. So that girls in our community may develop a career in this field as well. I also want to get an MBA because I like this field. I would like to understand the ins and outs of business, share them with my community, and familiarize them with the positive thinking of business. When a girl is born, people think she is dependent on her mother and father, and after marriage, on her husband. But enough; I want to say to people with this thinking that now women will not be dependent upon anyone because now girls and women will be self-dependent and will stand on their own feet. Some parents and families still have old-fashioned thinking, they feel that girls are made just for kitchen and home work; but I want to show them that girls are not less than anyone. Given the opportunity, they can do anything for their family and for their country. Before I received the scholarship I was unable to fulfill this dream of getting an MBA because of my financial situation. But once I received the scholarship, I had a glimpse of light and hope. The seed of this hope has given rise to a new sense of optimism in my life. It is my goal to stand upon my own two feet and to help my community in any way possible. *Name changed for safety reasons
“Without the Shadhika scholarship, I would have certainly gotten married.”
Meet Radha: one of the nine young women to graduate this year as part of the Shadhika Scholars program. Radha comes from a ‘basti’ (slum community) in Mumbai. The eldest of her family of eleven, she lives in a one-room house on about $1,250 a year. Given their poverty, her chances of continuing her education past grade 10 looked slim. “Without the Shadhika scholarship, I would have certainly gotten married.” Fast forward three years and now, with Shadhika’s support, she is the first person in her community to ever graduate from college. Armed with a degree in Accounting and Finance, she just secured an internship with a CPA that will help her find a permanent job in the coming year. “My dream has always been to complete my degree no matter how hard it becomes and become someone who plays a significant role in the world.” Over her three years, she’s done just that, educating parents about the right to a girls’ education and helping girls get enrolled in school. Post-college Radha will continue to inspire others as a Shadhika Alumnae.
"I feel nobody should be judged based on their religion, lifestyle and clothes. They should be judged on their own abilities."
Sabah is the first person in her family to go to college. She lives in a small, single room house in a conservative Muslim community in Mumbai. One of four children, her father is an embroiderer and her mother is housewife. Her family lives on $3/ day. Going to school was not easy for Sabah and she faced a lot of discrimination along the way. “In 12th grade English class, whenever I would raise my hand to read out loud, the teacher would never select me because from my clothes it was obvious that I was Muslim. My teacher felt that Muslim people are not good with English. I use to feel very bad. “But then during English orals [exams], my teacher was very happy when I answered all the questions correctly in English. Then my teacher started asking more questions, and I answered them all. I feel nobody should be judge based on their religion, lifestyle and clothes. They should be judged on their own abilities.” Sabah was part of Shadhika’s second class of scholars and just graduated in June with a Bachelors in Commerce. She has already secured a job with a prestigious accounting firm. Even as she moves onto her career, she is committed to serving as a mentor for other girls like her. “It is my dream to become something after my education,” she explains. “This is the dream for girls like us.”
“You should play with your friends, not your own children.”
Meet Vidya*, a 17-year-old student at Baale Mane, Shadhika’s partner in Bangalore, India. Baale Mane is a home for girls who have been abandoned, orphaned, or rescued from child labor. Shown at center in the photo above, Vidya has lived at Baale Mane since she was a young girl. On the brink of graduating and moving into the city for college, Vidya is at an age of transition. With a grant from Shadhika, Baale Mane launched a Life Skills course this past May to prepare the girls for this change. The course serves girls age 13 – 24 in all stages of transition. The Life Skills course has exercises to help the girls explore and understand issues ranging from sexual health, self-confidence, stress management, living independently, interpersonal relationships, and career planning. In one such exercise, students were asked to write letters to their future daughters, full of their hopes and dreams and advice for them. In her letter, Vidya tells her future daughters, “You should play with your friends, not your own children.” What makes this letter all the more profound is that Vidya narrowly escaped child marriage herself. Less than one year ago, when she was just 16, Vidya was kidnapped from Baale Mane by her extended family who attempted to force her into an arranged marriage. They took her over 50 miles away to her home village. However, with help from her brother, Vidya escaped, and after several days, she found her way back to Baale Mane. Baale Mane provides a safe and loving home for over 60 girls like Vidya. With Baale Mane’s support, these girls are preparing to live independently in a home they can create for themselves. Shadhika is proud to support Baale Mane to help young women like Vidya make this transition and realize this dream for their future.