At Sharana, we are excited to announce the launch of a series of workshops for adolescent girls. Currently, our team provides support to vulnerable children from Puducherry and its surrounding areas, giving them the tools they need to build their own bright futures. Our services include educational support through evening Homework Help Centres, emotional support through professional social work, and medical care from our health worker. However, we are constantly evolving as an organisation to better meet the needs of our beneficiaries. Our project with adolescent girls aims to do just that.

Sharana’s female beneficiaries are effected by a myriad of gendered and age-specific disadvantages as they enter adolescence. Issues predominately stem from a lack of knowledge about their changing bodies, which can be strange and confusing. Problematically, few of these young girls have people in their lives to talk to and who are able to educate them. While adolescent girls continue to understand themselves through a cloud of misconceptions, their academic potential, social mobility and political agency are curtailed.

Sharana has already taken some steps to address this process of female disempowerment through one-off workshops with adolescent girls. However, we feel that providing regular sessions will enable us to create a more comfortable and open forum to talk about these issues. Sessions will be run by our social worker Vadivu. Vadivu has been in Sharana for six years and is very experienced in conducting workshops on female-related issues. One of our interns from the organisation Development In Action, will also be assisting Vadivu. Together, they will facilitate weekly workshops on an array of issues, aiming to construct a safe space for the girls to express themselves and voice their worries.

Importantly, the sessions will be shaped by the girls. The purpose of this is to validate the worries and concerns of the participants and thereby empower them. However, some structure will be provided by the facilitators to ensure that a range of topics is covered. This will also allow for development tools such as art therapy, theatre and fun games to be introduced each week.

This is an exciting new step for Sharana and we look forward to further updates as the sessions progress.

Guest post by Lucy Heyderman- volunteer- Development in Action- UK. Lucy recently completed a Masters in Gender and Development at the Institute of Development Studies and is looking to gain insight into the inner workings of grassroots NGOs.