Women’s education in India is still a hot topic of discussion. Patriarchal mindset, gender stereotyping, lack of financial support are a few hindrances women face while pursuing their education. Ministry of Statistics finds out the literacy rate of adults (age 15 years and above) to be 78.8% for men while only 59.3% for women. This disparity further reflects women’s participation in the workforce with a paltry 25.8% as compared to 73.3% for men.
Bridging this gap by facilitating women to pursue their higher education gave birth to the ‘Shakti’ initiative. Shakti means ‘Power’ in Hindi. And we strive to empower women through education to prepare them to work towards their aspirations, cultivate a strong workforce across all levels, and contribute to the growth of the nation.
As all noble deeds begin at home, Shakti too initiated with the women at UPES. A 9-month program stretched over 5 modules, was designed to train women for holistic development, hone their skills, and inculcate leadership spirit. The program selects women through an intensive selection process and trains them in adaptive skills, emotional intelligence, business and professional communication, and team management. The five modules, each meticulously designed, covers areas of personal assessment, leadership training, and building one’s personal brand. Apart from these, talks are also held where leaders like Lt. General TS Shergill, Neel V Broker (laureate EMEAA region), and Linda Brown (laureate Australia and New Zealand), share their stories and inspire the group. Two batches have successfully completed the nine-month program.
Continuing with the same vision, the Shakti initiative extended its purview to include girl students enrolling in UPES by providing them with a 25% scholarship on the tuition fees. The scholarship will apply to the entire program duration for all Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from the academic year 2020.
Shakti was launched on February 4, 2020, in the presence of dignitaries, women achievers, senior industry members, and UPES faculty. Smt. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, delivered the keynote address and stated that women are looking for equal treatment and opportunities. Actor, Tisca Chopra, congratulated UPES on starting Shakti and elucidated the importance of education as it gives exposure, helps to understand a situation, and questions the status quo to change it. She insisted that both men and women should question the age-old mindset we are following and together cultivate an inclusive environment to drive the change.
A panel discussion on ‘Accelerating the gender equality journey from classrooms to the boardrooms,’ was moderated by Ms. Dipti Nair (YourStory) that saw women leaders share their journey while highlighting the challenges and remedies. Dr. Renu Batra, UGC, spoke of the importance of role models and mentors for women in their journey and credited her mother for insisting her to pursue education. Ms. Talish Ray, TRS Law Offices, Ms. Rajshree Rao, Rolls Royce, and Ms. Vidhu Goyal WONK app, urged women to take risks, ask questions, stand up for their rights, and most importantly keep working towards achieving their dreams. Failure should not be a deterrent but a catalyst for success and growth. Panelists agreed with Ms. Meenakshi Gupta, (Goonj), in cultivating a social atmosphere where education for women should be aimed at creating leaders. At the same time, Mr. Vijay Singh, UPES School of Law, explained how men should discuss the gender inequality and collectively drive the initiative forward.
Ms. Stuti Gandhi, UPES, in her closing remark, reminded universities and corporates to create an inclusive environment that’ll foster not just women pursuing education but also encourage men to contribute to the change. She envisioned the initiative to turn into a movement that will offer quality education as a means to empower women and equip them with modern-day skills and make them future-ready.
UPES has declared 2020 as the ‘Year of Women Empowerment,’ and continues to undertake such initiatives to promote girl child education and nurture women working in UPES for leadership roles. To know more about the programmes and admissions for 2020, visit upes.ac.in.