Have you heard of Aishwarya Chaturvedi?
Aishwarya is a rising woman leader and a passionate human rights advocate in India. Her story starts in Firozabad, India, the hub of the glass industry in the country and where many laborers call home. Most of these families don’t send their children to school. Instead, their children dutifully set off to work at the factory.
Aishwarya herself grew up under a roof housing all three generations of her family and witnessed the disadvantage of her community firsthand. That is why together, Aishwarya and the family she loves founded the NGO Nirman to eradicate illiteracy and especially to encourage girls’ education.
When Aishwarya graduated from Law School, she formally established the NGO “Nirman: Initiatives for Life Skills and Education” following her experience with Global Peace Women Leadership Academy (GPWLA).
The GPWLA is a signature program of Global Peace Women, an affiliate of the Global Peace Foundation. GPW creates initiatives that uplift women’s dignity and value, empower families, and advance service-minded women’s leadership to foster peace in the home and society.
This immersive program supports promising young women, instilling confidence, leadership skills, and education to become peacebuilding leaders in their families, communities, and nation. GPWLA is changing the lives of young women like Aishwarya. But it doesn’t stop there. Aishwarya is changing the lives of so many others with the passion and enrichment she gained. Her NGO Nirman intends to empower, build resilience, and improve the education of underprivileged children.
When she began her journey, Aishwarya found that many parents were reluctant to send their children to her program, fearing fees and reservation costs. Determined to make the program accessible to all, Aishwarya informed them that it would be completely free. It wasn’t long before the community started signing up. Aishwarya still remembers the first child to enroll in the program: a 12-year-old boy who had never been to school.
With the help of her mother and friends, Aishwarya developed a curriculum for the program using the three Es (Education, Exposure, and Experience) approach, covering many topics and engagements such as arts and crafts, sanitation and hygiene, and child rights and sexual abuse. While Aishwarya struggled to convey the topic of sexual abuse to young children, the workshop topic proved to be essential as some girls eventually worked up the courage to speak out about the harassment they faced through their teachers under the garb of punishment. The teacher would eventually get expelled from the school.
“I objected when the teacher pinched me and told my mother about it and how it was wrong…” one girl described. “After that, my mother complained to the principal about the teacher, and he got removed from the school… I learned to say no and what is a bad touch.”
Aishwarya credits a major part of her success in creating the program to her experience in GPWLA. “GPWLA Enrichment was extremely helpful and therapeutic,” said Aishwarya. “It was lovely to see familiar faces every month. It was so warm and inspiring. I would say that the GPWLA enrichment program was beneficial in growing my leadership skills.”
Aishwarya’s time in GPWLA provided her with essential skills in organizing, time management, curriculum design, presentation, and project management. She connected with incredible women from different countries and learned how other countries tackled similar issues.
Aishwarya is now the GPW Project Coordinator for India and is excited about her new involvement with GPW. She shared her vision to expand her NGO to a global level so that more children can access quality education and is grateful that GPW can be a platform for the transformative project. With the network she is building, she is determined to bring in women leaders she connected with in GPWLA as guest speakers virtually for her children back home in India. She looks forward to increasing access to quality education for underprivileged children worldwide.
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