Last week I was fortunate to to meet with Femininst Approach to Technology(FAT) whilst visiting New Delhi. I wanted to share a short note, and a few photographs from this visit to give everybody who has purchased my work a chance to see the types of projects your money is supporting.
EMpowermakes grants to over 100 grantee partners in the 15 countries they are in, many on a multi-year basis. These charities all support at-risk youth in Emerging Markets aged between 10-24 and FAT is one such charity.
FAT was founded to further social mobility and education for girls in the slums of Lajpat Nagar in Delhi and operates in. With mandatory education for youth ending at the age of 12, most girls do not see their education prioritised because they will be expected to support their families in the home, and eventually get married and leave the family.
The charity has two programs which run in parallel:
The first is an ‘innovation lab’ where we spent the afternoon, and which the girls are able to attend 3 times per week after school where they get to further their curiosity towards the STEM subjects. By learning how to code and spend time with computers, creating crafts projects, or going on visits to understand how engineering projects work the girls are able to be exposed to parts of the curriculum they would otherwise have little influence from.
Secondly, older girls are appointed as mentors to groups of 5-10 younger girls under the YFLP (Young Female Leaders Programme) which FAT has created system to help address the many social issues that the girls face. These issues include dealing cyber security - such as the issue of having to share devices such as mobiles with their brothers/parents who then have access to their entire facebook messenger inbox and can often cause conflict, sexual harassment and assault.
By creating a safe space for the girls to come and share both their issues, and also foster their creativity and curiosity, the charity has seem tremendous results that have made a significant impact on the girls’ lives. These include girls who have graduated from being a mentee to now mentoring other girls, creating a dialogue with the community to delicately address the issue of forced marriage which some of the girls had faced, and seeing many of the girls express their desire to further their education in the direction of the STEM subjects and a market improvement in their in-school grades.
The visit left me feeling immensely grateful for the work EMpower is doing, and determined to keep further supporting their work around the globe in whatever small way I can. When we first got to the space, the girls were clearly a little shy and afraid of making too much noise, but after 2 hours of talking to them they were all bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm and joy and keen to show is their work and projects and this goes to show what creating a safe space for them can do. The mentors were so proud of the contributions they have made to their mentees lives, and this virtuous circle is one that is so important for this society.
After the trip I was very fortunate to be able to share a few moments with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama on a trip to Dharamshala (a back story for an entirely different newsletter!). I gifted him an edition of “God is Good” which stands as the best selling picture from my print run so far, and he was kind enough to also bless one copy, and through it, the project which you have all continued to support and encourage through purchasing my work. There are less than 20 copies of this print left, so if you haven’t got one and have a spare wall or want to gift somebody a copy then you know what to do :) As always, 100% of profits from this work in my print store will be donated to EMpower.
Additionally, if you are ever in one of the program countries and would like to visit a grantee partner I cannot recommend the experience enough and would be happy to try and help facilitate that with the help of EMpower. To find out more visit http://www.fat-net.org where you can see some of the girls' incredible stories.