Young women from marginalised communities in India face a unique set of challenges due to their gender and community status. Issues like dropping out of school, being pushed to get married sooner than the legal age and not being able to pursue a career for financial stability impact these young women more than we can imagine. These challenges can be isolating for many, pushing them deeper into disadvantage, depression and deprivation.
Gulfsha, one of our programme participants belongs to a deprived community in Delhi, where young girls and women often face gender-based discrimination. Many are not allowed to pursue higher education or enter formal employment. Gulfsha faced a similar situation. Despite being good at academics, her father stopped her from studying further after class 12th He wanted Gulfsha to marry. But she was determined to pursue her education, join meaningful work and become independent. After tirelessly persuading the father for over a year, he gave in and allowed Gulfsha to study again.
The neighbours from her community used to pass nasty comments and taunted her as she started studying at a co-educational college saying, "Today you are studying with boys, tomorrow you will elope!" But that did not deter her from pursuing her studies and reaching her dreams. She completed a Diploma in Architecture Assistantship with a scholarship in May 2020.
Magic Bus was running a placement drive in her college during the same time. She was keen on working and earning her living. She faced a difficult situation when her parents demanded that she should get married. But Gulfsha convinced them to let her work, at least for a brief period. Her family put stringent rules on her like being back home before six in the evening. She knew it would be difficult to find a job that allowed this. When she couldn't clear a couple of interviews, she enroled in Magic Bus 'Get Into' programme.
'Get Into' is a sector-specific employability programme developed with employers to support young people working in that sector. She enrolled in the programme in September 2021. As the second lockdown was imposed, Magic Bus started delivering the sessions online. Our team made Gulfsha's parents understand the significance of the skills she will learn and they let her attend the free digital sessions.
She had never been part of any online sessions before and did not know how to navigate them. But she was motivated to learn and explore. With help from the Magic Bus team, she started attending the online sessions. She participated and completed all the activities proactively. By the end of the course, she felt more confident and ready for a job. The course empowered her with essential 21st- Century life and employability skills like communication, risk and resilience, problem-solving, decision making, preparing for a job interview, writing a CV and presentation skills.
Get Into is an 8-weeks-long programme. The curriculum is co-developed with the employers so young people can train in core employability skills as well as vocational skills specific to the employer's needs. This, combined with on-the-job training through work placements, ensures that young people are prepared to begin working within the sector. The programme participants learn about English, IT and Financial Literacy apart from the sector-specific skills. Our programme participants from the 'Get Into' programme often secure higher salaries compared to their peers, thanks to the sector-based training and placements.
For employers, this programme offers benefits like reduction in skills mismatch with new employees, a long-term commitment and sustainable employment, reduction in the need for a lengthy induction and a team of skilled young people the employers can recruit at scale through each cohort.
Magic Bus team offers post-placement support for 3-6 months following the programme to ensure sustainable job placement and income.
After completing the programme, Gulfsha appeared in several job interviews and got selected by two organisations but she was fixed on working as an Estimator. She is the first in her family of 7 to venture into the formal job sector. Gulfsha's father runs a rented scrap shop with her elder brother. The family's monthly earnings were INR 5000. She earns four times more than her family's monthly income and is due for a promotion.
Her role as an Estimator includes preparing comprehensive and accurate cost estimates for materials, labour and equipment required for projects based on client specifications and in support of Contracts and Bidding. She communicates with international clients, understands their projects and helps her team members through project introduction and client requirements. She says, "My job requires me to have strong communication, listening skills, negotiations and presentation skills. The Magic Bus team and the 'Get Into' Programme have been instrumental in shaping my skills for effective performance at work. It enabled me to become an independent woman."
She adds, "The programme has been a life-changing event for me. It moulded me into a more resilient individual and a better professional".
Gulfsha means 'blooming flowers'. True to her name, she is now a role model and an ambassador of change for young women in her community. The neighbouring women who used to taunt her, now want their daughters to follow her footsteps!Back