This Youngster Is Empowering Women Through Digital Education
A few years back when Surbhi Jain and her friend were on their way to their Engineering College, carrying lots of books and discussing one of the books, two men crossed them with the hitting remark,
"Arey Madam, itna kya mehnat karti ho, banani to rotiyan hi hain?"
(Madam, why do you toil so hard, after all, you have to cook rotis in the future at home.)
Surbhi says this mindset was not amongst her family, where she was encouraged to find her own ways in life. But this remark hit her very hard, "This is what a common mindset is towards women. If the family is well to do, they offer you to relax and take care of the household. If you want to do something, you will hear something unpleasant and might drop off the idea. And even if you try to get back to self-dependence at a later age, you are discouraged by saying, ‘You won't be able to, this isn't your cup of tea.’"
This is the mindset regarding women that Surbhi resolved to change because she believes change begins from home and empowerment of the youth, especially women, will come only through education.
Surbhi says, "One can do what she wants if she is determined, though she will have to fight or take huge steps to do whatever she wants to, and one always has an option to do what she aspires to do. So why not help empower women to make them do what is the need of the hour?"
Today, this 24-year old Computer Science Engineer hailing from Udaipur, Rajasthan is the founder of Digication which she describes in one word as independence or to be precise, digital education for the underprivileged, especially women - of all age groups.
So rather than detailing it myself, I let Surbhi speak her heart out on the idea, how it began and what it does today...
"As an engineer, I had a lot of opportunities to look up to. Also, I had been skilled well in entrepreneurship by my elder brother who is a travel entrepreneur. But my mother, a home-manager, wanted me to not take the path my brother took. She had wanted us both to be salaried people as she had struggled quite a lot financially, due to the uncertainties in life, since my father is a businessman. Because she was scared, my brother guided me to do my practical training first with a digital startup before I decided what to do in the future towards women empowerment. I joined Obbserv in Udaipur itself and learned a lot from Ravi Soni and Ajay Acharya’s team there. Digication was a 4 am idea in 2015, jotted down on a paper, to create awareness among women about the power of Digital Media.
The next day, I discussed this idea with my HoD from college, Mr Piyush Javeria, and soon we set up Digication from a small room where I worked, and we began teaching the basics of computers to young girls. I was joined in by volunteers like me, who wanted to bring about a change.
We didn't charge a penny for these students, we used modes of crowdfunding to get resources and later, spread our wings to even teaching them Web Designing and Digital Marketing.
And recently we have come up with the 'Digital Naari Program' which helps women above the age of 50 with:
- Knowing about Cashless Payments
- How to Recharge/Pay Bills Online/Book Tickets Online etc
- How to Navigate: Search Locations on Maps
- How to book a Taxi (Ola, Uber)
- Online Shopping
The Digital Naari Program
Surbhi teaching the middle-aged group women.
All this is a must to learn for women, for them not to depend on their husbands/children for these basic processes that have now become a part and parcel of life. Post demonetization, a lot of women came to me for help, so that brought in the idea to start this program. My parents, who were initially scared about my future, are proud of me today and back me in every travel I take to educate women, even in the far-flung areas of Rajasthan,” Surbhi informs in a single breath. An excited youngster who sets goosebumps through her enthusiasm, positive thinking and the urge to do something better for the society.
But everything better comes with a price - the struggle behind it.
"Ah, only after struggles the achievements taste sweet, right? Rather than backing my idea, people from even close circles would tell me to not take the risk since I was too young to manage a start-up, that too one open for public service.
Others would tell me that since I was a woman who will be married off soon, my idea and plan would be short-lived.
Then came the hurdle of how to manage funds, where will the money come from beyond my little savings? I started with merely 2500/- Rs, hiring a place with much difficulty since I was a single young girl. I didn't take a single penny from home. Charging nominal fee from those who could afford, plus a little crowdfunding from volunteers, helped to sustain Digication, which is all set to expand its wings.
We have two classrooms now. I go for teaching seminars at big podiums and the fee I get goes into Digication to empower women who need it the most,” says a very beaming Surbhi. I can read the pride, the joy, the satisfaction in her eyes. How many youngsters do you see with such zeal these days?
So how does Surbhi go about hosting Digication training sessions?
Surbhi details, “We have trained around 2500+ students so far, among whom 1200 to 1500 are still in touch with Digication. We rent places, taking help from colleges and institutions as they already have a set up with basic requirements we need like a projector, internet and systems. We even travel to places to hold classes for individuals, taking spaces on rent, even hosting sessions in makeshift tents. Apart from that, we have our main classrooms in Udaipur, Rajasthan for every individual who can come and take the classroom training. We also give online training and some 20-25 trained professionals help me in realising my vision.”
Surbhi teaching young girls
So has Surbhi absorbed the women whom she has trained? Details of a few and how it changed their lives for better.
"You will be happy to know that we have maximum women ratio in training sessions - 75%. And I am so happy that we have now batches running for housewives. For instance, baker Garima Babel and travel blogger Shruty Shah have been helped out by Digication to find their mission in life.
So when we train women/girls, our first priority is to find them freelance work and then get them absorbed in a place that realises their full potential. 80% of the women working in Digication were once trained by Digication itself,” says Surbhi, who has great plans for her start-up in the next five years. She lists them as below:
- I plan to take Digication to rural areas next. Free of cost.
- Cover most of the schools with our training programmes, where students from a tender age start getting used to digital activities the right way and thus, making students tech savvy.
- Cover clubs with our programmes for females, giving them digital independence.
- Create clubs and communities to keep digital enthusiasts updated and contributing.
- Set up Digication centres in small cities and villages to train people and appoint them by giving employment as well as a chance to grow their town more digitally.”
So what's her message to women who dream to be self-reliant but are living in the clutches of the patriarchal society?
Surbhi smiles and wraps up saying, "Don’t be scared thinking about the chances of failure. Rather, give it a try and if you are self-motivated and determined, nothing can break you. But don't try to be perfect. Just be yourself, don't compare with others. Remember, only if you enjoy what you do, you will achieve success in what you had dreamt about."
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P*****I am proude of you
V*****Have you provide jobs too?
A*****This definitely prove as a very important step towards women empowerment
S*****Such an inspiring story.. These stories reinforce our faith within us😀