Published: 23rd August 2020
How Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana is empowering the women of tomorrow to find their way
Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana's Smart Girl workshops follow six modules over two days to enable and empower girls aged 14 to 23
In a bid to empower girls between the age of 14 and 23, Bharatiya Jain Sanghatana (BJS) has been conducting their Smart Girl workshops for over 13 years now. The National President of the organisation Rajendra Lunker says that the two-day workshop aims to not only empower girls by teaching them self-defense, but it also helps them make better decisions in life, gives them a voice and strives to make them better citizens. One of the key focuses of their six-part module is menstruation and menstrual hygiene.
Speaking about the programme, Rajendra says, "There are so many challenges to overcome and it is necessary to empower girls to ensure they overcome them." With over 500 dedicated trainers spread all over the country, Smart Girl workshops are conducted in schools, colleges and communities. "In Tamil Nadu, there are 45 chapters of BJS and there are 1,200 chapters of BJS spread across the country. The programme has been conducted in Kendriya Vidyalayas in Erode, Ooty, Coonoor and Coimbatore. In Chennai, the programme has been conducted in over 50 colleges as well," says Rajendra.
Rajendra Lunker, National President, BJS
The workshops are conducted in the form of games, storytelling and drama. "Messages are derived from these enactments and life lessons are imparted," says Rajendra. He narrates the incident where a girl with speech and hearing impairment could openly talk about being troubled by some boys to her teachers after attending the workshop, elaborating its impact. BJS also plans to launch a programme for boys and Rajendra says that it will be launched within the next six months.
BJS has managed to penetrate into every state and successfully trained over 7 lakh girls all over the country. And the pandemic hasn't slowed them down. "During the lockdown, we shifted the workshops online. Till date, over 150 workshops have been conducted online," says Rajendra. Speaking about how they're conducting the classes, the Tamil Nadu state president of the organisation, Dhanraj Tatiya, says, "We are using Zoom to conduct the classes. Participants have to register prior to the workshops." However, the workshops, which were conducted over 14 hours and split into two days, have now been modified. "We only conduct sessions that are three hours long at most. It is now spread over three or four days," informs Dhanraj.
Dhanraj Tatiya, Tamil Nadu State President, BJS
However, the response to the online classes has been phenomenal, says Dhanraj, who operates out of Ooty. "Earlier, it was difficult to find enough girls from Ooty to join a workshop. Sessions would even get cancelled. But now, anyone can join from across the country, especially in the sessions conducted in English," says Dhanraj.