Despite the advances made in education in India over the past decade, many of the benefits are still yet to be felt by girls and women, particularly those from rural and disadvantaged areas. Statistics continue to show that females are less likely to attend school, are less likely to finish school and are less likely to attend and graduate from university. Twenty per cent of Indian children still do not go to school, the majority of which are girls, and the number of illiterate women still outweighs the number of men (UNICEF India). In a country were education is often a key stepping stone on the path to a better life these trends are preventing Indian girls and women from fulfilling their potential. As women are often the bedrock of families denying them education can have a knock-on effect which limits the quality of life for their family and their children.
Udayan Care has recognised this problem in India and has founded the Udayan Shalini Fellowships, which are designed to provide higher education opportunities for able and ambitious girls. Girls for this programme are selected through a specially-designed assessment process which determines their Need, Ambition and Talent. Competition is tough with places only being awarded to 1 in 12 applicants. Those selected will receive financial support for the duration of their university degree of training course. Like other Udayan projects, the Fellowship offers mentor support and has a focus on all-round development in order to offer the girls the best chance of succeeding their chosen careers. Furthermore, after they have completed their studies or training the programme monitors their progress and offers advice to ensure they can live a happy and independent life.
To date, the Fellowship has helped over 2000 girls across 5 Indian states. The benefits of education females also means that this will have transformed the lives of many people beyond that 2000. Many of the participants in the Fellowship have gone on to excellent academic and professional achievements and not only is this a testament to the programme but also shows how much potential lies in women in India if only they have the chance to unlock it.