Prosus, the global consumer internet group of Naspers, announced today the launch of a new higher education and employment initiative for marginalised women and girls in India in partnership with UN Women. India has one of the largest opportunities in the world to boost GDP by advancing women’s equality and participation in the workforce – $770 billion of added GDP by 2025. 67% of all men of working age are employed and only 9% of women are. Barriers to entry for women include poverty, lack of educational opportunities and role models, gender stereotypes and early marriage. Even among those with secondary or higher secondary levels of education, the unemployment rates of women are significantly higher than men.In 2017-18, the overall female labour force participation rate for the age group 15 and above was 23.3%, which was 24.6% in rural areas as compared to 20.4% in urban areas.
Prosus FLIGHT aims to alleviate some of these barriers by supporting 750 women and girls to earn a formal degree or certification, as well as helping them to attain employable skills that would allow them to participate in India’s digital economy. Fundamental to the initiative is the identification and enrolment of women and girls who have completed middle, high school or senior secondary education, but would otherwise not have the opportunity and/or family support to continue to study. As societal attitudes and family support are important elements in ensuring that female students are motivated and encouraged to finish their courses, the initiative will include gender awareness and sensitisation workshops for approximately 5,000 households in the designated communities, as well as conducting research on attitudes to female education and employment.
The programme will focus on young women between the ages of 17 and 25 in the Indian state of Maharashtra. The five districts identified are Greater Mumbai Metropolitan Region-Mumbai City, Mumbai Suburban, Thane, Palghar and Raigad. By concentrating efforts and interventions, the initiative aims to create a network of graduate young women who will be role models, as well as creating supportive local communities, thereby increasing support and reducing drop-out rates.
The support provided through the FLIGHT initiative includes:
• Providing annual scholarships to pursue higher education in various institutions including Government College/ITI/Polytechnic.
• In line with UN Women’s guidance, providing financial support for three years, with the student contributing partially.
• Career guidance and counselling along with access to community support and champions to help build the career path.
• Access to job fairs, internship opportunities and exposure visits to private companies, along with dedicated sessions by experts and corporate mentors.
• Professional, soft and life skills training beneficial for all career streams.
• Access to placement opportunities, support for pursuing entrepreneurship or self-employment.
Commenting on the initiative, Aileen O’Toole, Chief People Officer, Prosus, said: “Education is key to achieving equality for women across the world. I am pleased to be able to announce this initiative in collaboration with UN Women on International Women’s Day 2021, and to help talented Indian women pursue their educational dreams and career paths that will contribute to India’s future.” Susan Jane Ferguson, Representative, UN Women India, said: “Societies and communities cannot make strides unless young women have access to quality education.
It is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. Investing in young women’s economic empowerment and skills development is one of the most urgent and effective means to drive progress on gender equality, poverty eradication, and inclusive economic growth. I am eagerly looking forward to this collaboration between UN Women and Prosus and the commencement of the FLIGHT initiative that aims to alleviate barriers to education and skill training by supporting 750 women and girls.” The research phase of the three-year partnership commences immediately, with updates to be published on the UN Women and Prosus websites in due course.
Prosus is a global consumer internet group and one of the largest technology investors in the world. Operating and investing globally in markets with long-term growth potential, Prosus builds leading consumer internet companies that empower people and enrich communities. Prosus FLIGHT is the second flagship social impact initiative of Prosus in India. In 2020, Prosus launched the three-year Prosus Social Impact Challenge for Accessibility (Prosus SICA), in which startups with the most innovative solutions in the assistive technology space compete for an annual grant.
About UN Women
UN Women is the United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. A global champion for women and girls, UN Women was established to accelerate progress on meeting their needs worldwide. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life, focusing on four strategic priorities: • Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems; • Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy; • All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence; • Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action. UN Women also coordinates and promotes the UN system’s work in advancing gender equality, and in all deliberations and agreements linked to the 2030 Agenda. The entity works to position gender equality as fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals, and a more inclusive world.