Swa, launched on the 8th of January 2020 is our rural leadership program for youth across disabilities. The year long program will have intensive quarterly workshops, monthly catch up and discussions and ongoing activities and community work. This program is particularly for youth across disabilities between the age group of 14 to 19 years. Our first batch of Swa leaders are 30 young women and men from 12 villages around Uttar Pradesh. And our first grassroots partners on the program in UttarPradesh are Mahila Swarojgar Samiti (MSS), Varanasi, a UP based NGO working on issues of health, education, literacy, livelihood, and empowerment for women and youth in marginalized communities and villages.
Why did we launch Swa? What is the need?
Access to schools, health care centres, government offices, information and communication technologies is poor across the country for people with disabilities. The census shows that majority of people with disabilities are further marginalised in India by poverty and they live in rural areas. The urban-rural divide to access is huge and this means that rural youth with disabilities have fewer opportunities than those living in cities. From basic access to dignity, there is a need to address this divide, since it greatly hinders them navigating their present; let alone be able to build a productive future.
Building capacities at a young age is key to change. Youth leadership programmes are the centre of this. Through Swa, we will work with the youth to support them articulate their dreams and ambitions, strengthen their knowledge and skills, and enable them to achieve their full potential. We hope to have young leaders who not only change their lives but are the catalysts that change their communities and lead from the front.