Published: 07th July 2021
Aditi Gera's Empowerette is mentoring young girls to help them make independent decisions about their lives
Through Empowerette, Aditi Gera wants to provide one-on-one mentorship to young girls to empower them to make independent decisions in life. She recently won The Diana Award for her work
Empowering women and young girls is not something that must be limited to the privileged. Aditi Gera believes that we must all work to empower young girls coming from marginalised backgrounds. But who is Aditi Gera? She is the founder of Empowerette, an initiative that works towards mentoring young girls, especially from underprivileged backgrounds. "I started Empowerette when I was 19 years old with little or no experience in guiding girls who were almost the same age as me. But I did it anyway because I have always believed in the principle of empowering women," says Aditi. She continues to explain, "I grew up hearing the story of my grandmother who got married at the age of 12 because she had no other option. When I was in Class X, I was required to work on a project on a social issue. At that time, I came across a teenager who worked as a maid to support her family financially. She told us that she was to be married in a few days. My friend and I were shocked to see a girl of our age getting married. It became clear to us that women did not know that they have other choices, whether it was fifty years ago or even now."
Aditi continues, "The world has rapidly progressed but the position of women and the way our society treats her continues to remain the same. This triggered me to work towards empowering women. I discussed it with my school friends and we agreed to start an organisation together. We wanted to build a sisterhood so that young girls get that support and care from each other. That's how Empowerette came into existence." Initially, Aditi and her team of 14 people focused on educating girls about women representatives and building a community to support them. "There is a need for women representatives in all the fields. Therefore, Empowerette started working from the grassroots level. We started training and educating young girls on the importance of women representatives," says Aditi.
Their programmes are designed on the basis of UN sustainable development goals
The second factor was building a community to support these rural girls in all ways possible. "A lot of these girls don't get support from their family. We started designing our programmes as per the needs of these rural girls. Our mentorship programme is designed on the lines of UN Sustainable Development Goal-5. It is an effort towards developing leadership in young underprivileged girls who lack access to resources required to unveil their full potential and helping them make better decisions in order to shatter the glass ceiling over both their personal life and their world. Our programme involves routine visits to campuses inhabited by girls where sessions are organised through assigning mentors to groups of girls, with a clear focus on one-to-one mentorship and building a comfortable relationship between a mentor and a mentee. Similarly, Advocacy Among Youth is another programme for girls through which they initiate a dialogue among the youth on mental health. This programme involves creating a safe space for people who wish to share their emotions but struggle to communicate," explains Aditi who will turn 21 this August.
Currently, Aditi and her team are working in government schools, hostels and colleges in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. "Every year, we plan to work with at least 30 to 50 girls and try to impact them in every way we can. Since mentorship is a rigorous process, we don't work on quantifying the number of girls we have impacted. It starts with building trust between two people, increasing their confidence levels, teaching them to do something beyond their curriculum and shifting the mindset to making their own decisions in life. We choose a group of young girls and mentor them throughout the month. When we feel that these girls are confident enough, we shift focus to another group of young girls. Until 2020, these programmes were offline but since then, we have taken our programmes online," explains Aditi who recently began working with an Ed-Fintech company.
Aditi Gera, Founder, Empowerette
Besides mentoring young girls, Aditi is also working with her friends whom she met at the Ashoka Young Leaders Programme in 2020. "We are working towards advancing the change-making movement across the country. We will be reaching out to universities and schools to have a launchpad set up where students can work for a social cause or help people. But the idea is to build a support system that aspires to be young changemakers," she concludes.