Boosting Education and Employment for Young Women in India

Apr 30, 2024 11:55 AM ET
Jyoti sat at a desk using a sewing machine

Jyoti turns her sewing skills into her own tailoring business with support from Udhyam Learning Foundation and Accion’s Ovante program

Authors: Tannaz Daruwalla, Shweta Pereira

During a recent visit to Panchkula, Haryana, located in northern India, we had the pleasure of meeting 22-year-old Jyoti, a budding entrepreneur and clothing designer. Jyoti dropped out of high school after completing her 8th standard, as her father lost his vision and suddenly had to rely on the income from his children. She supported her family during this challenging time; however, given her limited education level and social restrictions preventing her from traveling beyond her village, she opted to stay home rather than look for a job.

In India, about 37 percent of youth between the ages of 15 and 29 entered the workforce during 2021 and 2022, according to findings from the Periodic Labour Force Survey. However, many young women like Jyoti are left out of India’s growing workforce due to limited education, lack of skills, and social restrictions.

Three years had passed since she left school when Jyoti learned about Udhyam Learning Foundation and its work with government-run Industrial Training Institutes (ITI). Udhyam offers students the opportunity to learn trade skills and foster an entrepreneurial mindset, equipping them with the skills to turn their trade into a business. Encouraged by her parents and three brothers, Jyoti decided to pursue tailoring courses at Udhyam and learn to design and sew clothing. With instruction from Udhyam, she also built the soft skills necessary to become a successful entrepreneur, enabling her to turn her passion for sewing into a successful business.

Now, she runs her own tailoring business from home, assisted by her cousin, aunt, and mother. Every day, she wakes at 6:30 to clean her sewing machine and begin her projects for the day. She visits a local boutique run by another family member where she sells her designs, which include wedding dresses and traditional garments like lehnga choli for Indian festivals.

Read more about how Jyoti is supported by Accion and FedEx here.