Social Architects of Tomorrow in Himachal
Our first program, SATH, helps students work together to build a new society. The program aims to increase community mobilization through youth collectives. The participants look at issues of human rights, corruption and marginalization of minorities. Through this process, they become better leaders and citizens. Our focus is to create a stronger youth generation and increase their involvement in the democratic process. The youth is also engaged in various activities such as youth melas (fairs), village libraries, girls’ tournaments and training in self defense.
As a result of the program, children experience enhanced consciousness around issues affecting societal well being. Some youth leaders have even taken filed a number of RTI applications and have also conducted social audits. Other leaders have successfully worked on altering gender inequality and inequity in their families. They are working continuously towards spreading an equality based framework in the larger society. This increased awareness is seen in youth group formations where the ratio of girls to boys has become equal and in campaigns, movements, and workshops.
After our program, awards are announced to young girls called Sahelis (friends of women), to demonstrate their ability to work as women’s rights activists and challenge the subordination of women. In order to further develop their ability, they are encouraged to pursue their formal education.
Gender, youth and livelihood- an emerging commitment
An issue that has largely gone unaddressed for young adults is their economic instability. Because of limited resources, young adults are often discriminated within the family which results in limited access to resources including kinship networks, education, land, technology, and little or no interaction with formal institutions. As a result, most of the youth population is either unemployed, self-employed or ‘not in the labor force.’ An overwhelming majority of the poor are not legally unemployed but engaged for a majority of their time in activity that does not pay adequate wages.
Young women are particularly affected. Their cultural and social position leads to a lack of skills, knowledge and institutional support. This makes them unable to provide for themselves. Continuing, the sexual division of labor discourages girls from seeking nontraditional employment options.
Our organization supports livelihood activities to help support young women and men. Our two knowledge centers in Kangra district help students acquire the skills needed to secure employment. For example, we have conducted workshops that teach computer, hospitality and accounting skills. These courses have increased their likelihood to be employed.