Friday, January 18, 2019

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics at Sambhali Trust

Text: Linda Roemer
Photos: Linda Roemer & Nicole Karpus

The number of women in science and technology is growing, yet men continue to dominate in this field, especially at the upper levels in these professions. That's why 11 members of the Society of Women Engineers recently came to Jodhpur to conduct science workshops for the women and children in our empowerment centres for a duration of two weeks. The organization based in the United States aims to make use of women's full potential in careers such as engineers and leaders.

Besides playing maths games, our women and children built towers made of straws and constructed paper airplanes as well as kites - a definite prove that women can indeed be successful in science!

I asked Ricka, Jessie, Celina and Meghan from the Society of Women Engineers about their intentions, expectations and lessons learned at the end of their work with Sambhali Trust.

How did you come up with the idea of implementing STEM at Sambhali Trust?

Meghan: We thought going abroad would be a good opportunity because we do not have much international outreach. Sambhali Trust stood out to me because we wanted to do something about women’s empowerment and women’s education – and it fit our objectives and goals very clearly. Women empowerment is very strongly supported in the Society of Women Engineers.

Jessie: The reason I joined the Society of Women Engineers is because I wanted to be part of a community that empowered women. STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – is such a male-dominated field, so having a community that empowers each other was very important to me.

Ricka: Connecting STEM and women empowerment on a global scale is something very important indeed. I thought to myself: How can we go and help other women, in other countries, who also feel that there is a problem with women representation in STEM?

Did you have any expectations on how it would be, specifically concerning the women at Sambhali Trust, with regards to their interest and capabilities in science?

Ricka: We didn’t know a lot before coming here, and this helped us keep an open mind. We didn’t know what it is like for them, but we were open to learning how they live, how they work, what their interests are, and what they want from us. They all have different goals in life. I wouldn’t say that all of them are super interested in going into science, but they all have dreams which they are fighting for.


Overall, what kind of workshops did you implement with the women and children?

Ricka: We built towers out of straws and tape with the women – we divided them in smaller groups and turned it into a small competition. With the younger ones, we built paper airplanes and kites. We also practiced the different shapes with the kids – which basically is something that you need every day. We wanted to show to all of them: Hey, there is science around us. Also, very important are the skills that you use. Many of them are planning to be a doctor, or a policewoman – where you still have to use a lot of the skills that were important in our STEM workshops: Teamwork, problem solving, critical thinking, planning and designing.

Celina: I was doing the workshop at the Fatima empowerment centre, and I was amazed about how quickly everyone got into it. Everyone was participating and had a lot of fun supporting each other in solving the tasks. It is good to show that there is an option, that women can go into science, that we can go this path.

Jessie: What I loved the most was their passion for learning. That’s the one thing we all have in common: We all want to learn. And sometimes, being in a different country, gives you a bigger picture of what types of opportunities there are – and Sambhali Trust gives opportunities to them, it opens new doors for them.


If you were to come to India with the Society of Women Engineers again, would you do things differently? Do you have more ideas of what you would like to bring across to them in the future?

Celina: Now we have a better idea of what we have here, the basis. We can plan more thoroughly and have more time now to come up with a few more activities that could be helpful.

Ricka: Now that we know what their specific interests and skills are, we can plan more to help them reach their goals.

What did you learn from your work with Sambhali Trust?

Jessie: I just want to thank Sambhali Trust, for giving us the opportunity to come here. It is not only that they are learning from us, we are also learning from them. Being part of the work of Sambhali Trust was very eye-opening. We in America take education for granted sometimes – and there are so many people out there who do not have the chance to pursue a higher education. It has given me so much to think about, what I should be grateful for. Also, there is a lot of media discussion about the negativity of India, and we are able to bring back the positive sides of it, and thus have a positive impact on our country as well.

Ricka: We came here to teach them, and share what we know with them. But in a lot of ways, we were actually learning a lot from them too. It is a two-way exchange for sure. I hope that they are taking the STEM problem solving and teamwork with them to wherever they want to go in life.

Monday, October 22, 2018

How Sambhali Trust celebrated International Girls' Day

There is always an occasion to celebrate ‘womanhood’ at Sambhali. The ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, declared in 2012 by the United Nations in order to focus on the progress of girls, was such an opportunity. It is celebrated annually on 11th October to raise awareness of the issues facing some girls, such as forced marriages, being pregnant at a young age, being forced to leave school and being subjected to violence. The volunteers and the staff at Sambhali organised activities linked to such issues, to celebrate the day at the centres.

In Laadli centre, workshops were set up to remind the girls of their rights and to raise awareness about gender inequalities. In these workshops, there were to be opportunities for the girls to create posters about issues still happening in India such as dowry, female infanticide, domestic violence, human trafficking, child labour but also hopeful ones, like women rights! Me, the other volunteers and the staff, wanted the girls to have an active role in the workshop, and to not simply be passive observers as these are issues affecting them in their daily lives; they have more experience of this and can talk about it better than the european volunteers!

We were delighted to see how committed the women were to this project. They took initiatives in choosing a name for their team related to their particular issue, in writing slogans... and in the end, everybody used their particular skill to make the most beautiful posters!

We also showed videos to the women about girls activists they would be able to identify with, such as the 20 year-old Indian spoken word poet, Aranya Johar, who condemns patriarchy, and the 21 year old-Afghan rapper, Sonita Alizadeh, who wrote a song against child marriage when her family tried to sell her into marriage.

In Abhivyakti centre, the volunteers and the staff asked the women there to reflect in small groups and to consider the changes that need to happen to make India a better place for the next generation of girls. What came out of this was that they said women should have more freedom, such as being able to be out after 7 o'clock (this is usually their curfew), have free self-defense classes, and that child marriage and violence against women should be stopped.

Girls from Laadli Boarding Home made posters with the following slogans : « Strong girls, strong India »

Here is an overview of what occurs every week in the empowerment centres. Women rights gather !

Lisa Morisseau 

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Facts and Figures

We have collected a few facts and figures from a few different online websites and documents which we would like to share with you today. The situation of Women and Girls and the plight for change.

Rajasthan holds the record for highest percentage of married females between the ages of 10 and 14, and has one of the lowest sex ratios in India.
Discrimination against women manifests itself in many forms that start even before birth. Sex selection, not celebrating the birth of female children girl-child, naming girls Mafi (Sorry) or Dhapu (Enough) and forcing them to drop out of school after primary level to assist at home are just some examples of this. The prevalence of child marriage and the dowry system, an insistence that girls keep purdah, domestic violence, and harassment of young girls by in-laws are also linked directly to gender inequality. Women are excluded from decision-making processes in their homes and communities, and traditional caste and community leadership structures do not encourage women to voice their grievances openly.

The condition of women in Rajasthan is pitiable in comparison to other states. Ours is among the worst states in the country for women. Infamous for child marriages, Rajasthan is among the states having worst sex ratios in the country . Here, women have to collect water from uncovered wells and cook food on firewood. Besides, the desert state also has the worst percentage of girls going to school in 15-17 age group. The women are not well employed too. The reproductive span of women here is second highest in the country.
Rajasthan not a place for women: Survey -

This Independence day the Trust's Women and Girls Empowerment Centres, Both the Sheerni and Laadli Boarding Homes with Volunteers and Staff went for a picnic at Mandore Garden, Jodhpur. A short video for your 

The status of adolescent girls’ education is a matter of great concern worldwide. For far too long, the right to an education has been denied to millions of girls, simply because they are girls. A recent UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) report indicates that of the 263 million children and adolescents not in school, 130 million are girls, mostly from developing countries, who confront the greatest challenges. Major barriers keep millions of girls out of school, denying them their right to lead lives of human dignity and equality. As an example, in rural India, girls must overcome the formidable obstacles of poverty, patriarchy, and child marriage to access their right to an education. 

"Freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression."- Nelson Mandela
These Tragic Conditions Of Widows In India Are Truly Heartbreaking.
Ever heard the phrase 'Husband Eaters'? Well, this is what a lady is framed in India as when her husband dies. The condition of widows in India is really heart-wrenching. Though the 'Sati Pratha' has ended and widows don't have to throw themselves into the funeral fire of their husbands, still, they live a life that is really tough for them.When a lady in India loses her husband, she turns from 'she' to 'it'.
An interesting link below.

About 1 in 100 children in India under age 10 has autism, and nearly 1 in 8 has at least one neurodevelopmental condition.
According to the National Health and Family Survey 2015-16, around 35 per cent of children in India suffer from malnutrition. Nearly 35 per cent of Indian children are still underweight.
Some 174 children go missing every day. Only about 50% of them are ever found again. 
1.36 crore 'silent' calls received by Government Child Helpline in three years.
looking specially at the incidents of rape against children, an 82 percent increase in the number of cases in one year was reported in 2016.
An interesting article we share with you below.

Rajasthan–a state that has India’s fourth-lowest literacy rate.
Education crisis in Rajasthan, which recorded an overall literacy rate of 67%–less than Cameroon, Egypt and Ghana–and the country’s lowest female literacy rate (52.66%), according to Census 2011. Rajasthan’s female literacy rate is worse than the average for the Arab world and “fragile and conflict-affected” countries, according to World Bank data.
India’s seventh most populated state (68.5 million people), with 24% of its population between the ages of six and 14, Rajasthan also has many children out of school (5%), according to government data.
Rajasthan recorded the highest percentage of mothers across Indian states (69.7%) with no schooling, according to ASER 2014.
Full article available at 

We hope you help us to help these underpriviledge section of the Indian society. Please come and help us by Volunteering with us, buy handmade beautiful articles and help us raise funds to keep our projects running in Western Rajasthan.