The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), MIT-WPU Affiliate in collaboration with MIT-WPU’s Texephyr 2022 organized an outreach event “Shiksha” abiding by SWE’s SWENext Program at K. Sopanrao Baburao Katke Primary School, Pune. The agenda envisioned for this outreach event was to educate girls at this school about STEM careers and encourage them to learn more about STEM Career Outcomes.
In India, being a tier 3 nation, many poor, rural women face problems in completing even the most basic education. Because girls leave the family home after marriage, girls in rural India are frequently denied formal education. Their parents do not regard them as a financial investment. They are married off early and are not allowed basic education and awareness even about their health due to no formal education. Hence, we used SWE’s guidance and resources to educate and empower these young girls. Originally our affiliate wanted to make this a big campaign – “Make a Difference”, however, the COVID 19 pandemic put a damper on our plans.
Currently, post-pandemic, as everything is getting back to normal, we intend to get back to making a difference. Our nation has started recognizing the issue and is working on it. Our government has launched many schemes like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana’ and many more but we have a long way to go.
“Shiksha” was not just an event but an astonishing feeling of spreading awareness among these sweet flowers. The main motive of our event was to explain to the kids about Engineering, Menstrual Hygiene, and good touch-bad touch. We were informed by school officials that the girls don’t know much about menstruation and menstrual wellness. The school’s principal requested if we could also talk to the girls about menstrual wellness and good touch-bad touch.
When talked about, the girls were extremely curious, enthusiastic, and more than thrilled to know ‘What engineering actually is?’ and ‘How do you get into it?’. And we made sure their hearts are fulfilled with our answers. The girls did not shy away and also asked us questions about maintaining menstrual hygiene. The major chunk of the girls weren’t aware of the STEM fields and how to pursue them, thus we conclude that this event served its purpose. The pamphlet we distributed amongst the girls was carefully crafted in both English and Marathi languages so that the girls along with their parents can read it and understand the many career streams open for these girls and how to dive into them. It was a happy moment when one of the girls stood up to say that she would like to be an agricultural engineer to help her parents who are local farmers.
We were hit with nostalgia from our own school days, making the experience absolutely beautiful. The event was wrapped up by distributing pamphlets and goodies, and the most important thing – broad pretty smiles! Over the span of the next few years, our affiliate aims to visit more underprivileged schools and advocate for STEM careers. There is an urgent need for a paradigm shift in how Indian society views girls’ education. Girls must be provided with more cerebral opportunities and must be made aware of what STEM fields have to offer to their brilliant young minds. We believe that even the smallest contribution on this big journey to eradicate gender inequality will help. We hope we can someday be a big enough cause for change.
Some glimpses from the event: