Photo: UNDP India

On the outskirts of Nagpur city lies Jaitada, a quiet suburb popular for its first water ATM, installed some time ago. Near this new landmark stands an old temple abuzz with young women from adjoining villages. These young women have assembled for an employability awareness camp organized by the Youth Employability Services (YES) centre in Nagpur.

YES centres offer end-to-end skills and career solutions for job-seeking women. Services range from career guidance, counselling, apprenticeship opportunities and jobs as well as post-placement support. YES Centre Nagpur has recently started a spree of awareness and mobilization camps in collaboration with Nagpur Municipal Corporation, reaching out to young women through its extensive network of women self-help groups (SHGs) and a dedicated team of community organizers. The camp at Jaitada was a part of this campaign.

It was here that we met Pooja Kishore, a vibrant and energetic 26-year-old looking to learn, grow and make it to the top. She’s currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in arts from Shrimati Binzani Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Nagpur, and is in her last year of education.

However, life hadn’t been smooth for Pooja. “My father supports me. He works as a day labourer in various parts of Nagpur city, and is the sole bread winner for our family of four. With barely INR 8,000 a month, managing the household is difficult for us”, she said. 

Another challenge for Pooja was polio. She contracted the dreaded disease as a child, which limited her physical movement. But nothing deterred her from following her own path as continuous support from her family and a strong will ensured that she kept moving forward. “I have been continuously appearing in the interviews of big companies, but they are looking for women who speak hi-fi English,” she said.

That’s why improving her English sounded like the perfect extracurricular. She is keen to work in an IT company and believes that English will help boost her self-confidence and enhance her communication skills. She said, “Once I learn to speak in English, I will feel confident and comfortable, especially while doing job interviews.”

While working on her bachelors, she also completed a basic computer skills course from a local institute. She was keen to brush-up and even gain advanced skills at the YES Centre. So she enrolled in a month-long training-cum-employability programme meant exclusively for women candidates interested in pursuing their career in the booming IT-enabled services industry.

Over the next two months, the YES Centre aims to generate awareness and mobilize around 2,000 youth women like Pooja. The idea is to reach underprivileged women and girls, including school dropouts and those in need of skill development courses, and help them connect to skill development training providers, trainers and employers.

Pooja remained hopeful about the training and her future as a corporate employee. When asked what she wants to become in the future, she instantly replied, “self-dependent!”. This sums up our work at YES Centre as well – helping young women like Pooja build a strong foundation for a  transition to economic independence.

Zubair Lone is officer-counselling and Vikas Gupta is communications associate at UNDP India

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