April 2019 Update: Empowering Women and Youth in Asia

In 2019, we’re excited to share news about bold initiatives tackling human trafficking and ensuring youth and girls participation in the growing tech sector leveraging the extensive network of READ Centers and communities in the region.

Because of READ’s inclusive community-led approach, and through the beauty of partnerships and the flexibility of our model, we’re able to offer specialized programs tackling the root issues at the core of development challenges in communities across Bhutan, India, and Nepal in exciting new ways.


Reducing the Risk of Unsafe Migration

women walk across a street in Nepal

Every day, 1,500 Nepalis leave the country looking for work, and while many migrants have positive experiences, many fall victim to human trafficking, encounter poor working conditions, or face other types of exploitation and abuse. Last year, READ launched the Safe Migration program in Nepal with a goal of equipping 32,000 rural Nepalis with timely information to help them navigate the migration process safely. Safe Migration is a program co-designed by READ and IREX tackling sensitive issues around human trafficking and migration.

Through the “Diyo” program (the Nepali term for an oil lamp that symbolizes “lighting the way”) we are taking a multi-pronged approach.

  1. We ensure critical and timely safe-migration information reaches the most vulnerable.
  2. We help those who have been victimized to understand the process for seeking recourse and refer them to relevant service providers.
  3. We serve as a convener to bring together stakeholders to develop and implement local strategies to prevent and address human trafficking.

READ Centers are natural places to offer such comprehensive programs, as they are trusted community institutions that people turn to for information about sensitive issues. Since Diyo’s launch last year, we’ve already witnessed the impact it has had on families’ trying to make sure their loved ones are accounted for as they make their journeys across borders. We look forward to sharing results from the program!


The Next Generation of Women Leaders


With support from The Stone Family Foundation for Nepal and The Asia Group Foundation for India, READ and IREX are launching the Tech Age Girls (TAG) program in both countries in 2019. TAG is a signature IREX program that has already been successfully launched in nine countries. It will change the lives of young women in India and Nepal by equipping them with technology and leadership skills, plus the confidence to push their own boundaries as they think about their futures.

TAG is more than just an IT training course. By combining technology, leadership, and life skills training with practical assignments and community engagement projects, READ and IREX aim to create the next generation of female leaders. Building on their leadership experience, girls who participate will go on to train more youth through their local schools while changing attitudes in their families, schools and communities about the role of women and girls in technology and leadership positions. By giving young women a chance to reimagine what is possible, we can create the next generation of women leaders together!

Celebrating 12 Years of Impact in India

On International Women’s Day, READ India celebrated 12 years of making a difference in the lives of rural communities, especially for women and families across India. Dr. Geeta Malhotra, READ India Country Director, spoke at the celebration by reminding communities of the importance of teamwork, quoting “if you want to go fast, go it alone, but if you want to go far, go together.”

In 2019, READ India continues to reach more women through Skills to Succeed, an Accenture funded program to empower rural women by delivering skills training workshops, bringing them out of their homes, helping them grow more confident and capable of achieving their goals.

With Mother’s Day around the corner for many of us, we are reminded about the awe-inspiring roles mothers have with their children, especially daughters, as mothers provide the hope, nurture, guidance and leadership needed for children to thrive in an ever-changing world.In India, rapid development faces their youth today, and at READ, we understand how pivotal mothers and women are to changing the trajectory of opportunities. Among the many groups of women impacted by their experiences at these trainings, young mothers shared examples of impact that have had a ripple effect by changing the course of the future for their children and the younger generation.

Yasmeen, from Aghapur, Uttar Pradesh, shares that she came “from a humble family with little access to essential resources, always struggling to meet daily expenses.” She could not afford to send her children to school and wanted to find a way. Eagerly, she enrolled her children in her village READ Center’s Early Childhood Development program, and through this exposure, learned about the opportunity for stitching and sewing training to improve her family’s income. Since Yasmeen learned to sew, she has saved enough money and is planning to start her own boutique shop selling her garments within the community.

Many younger women explained after the program that the READ Center being a safe and trusted space gave their family the confidence to support these women in going out and gaining new skills, and this was the first step that launched them into a new, empowered life. Yogita Ravindra Ranvare shared that, although “in my village, girls are usually not allowed to move out of their houses on their own…my family allowed me to take training at the READ Center because they felt it was a safe place for me, and I took up training in Sewing and Stitching.” She went on to earn a life-changing income with her new sewing skills, providing her with a new direction and confidence in her life and helping her become more independent.


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