FAT began its work back in 2010 by creating a space called the Tech Center in South Delhi, which is an open space for adolescent girls and young women from disadvantaged communities to learn about common ICT tools from a feminist lens. While the program aims to provide technical skills to young girls - basic computers, the internet, photography, and filmmaking - these classes are interspersed with sessions on gender, patriarchy, sexuality, feminism and other socially relevant issues in such a way that the program inculcates feminist leadership among the girls. The girls are encouraged to use the skills they learn to fight against the issues they face in their lives.
Today, this small initiative that was started through this space has emerged as our Young Women's Leadership Program that aims at building leadership amongst adolescent girls and young women through the innovative use of technology. We have reached out to more than 300 girls through our Delhi Center and are expanding in other parts of the country as well. The stages of leadership development in the program have been defined as four levels —
- In the first level, girls who have newly enrolled with us in the Tech Center, learn basic technical skills (mainly using the computer and the internet) and attain a basic understanding of various issues related to women’s rights and feminism.
- In the second level, girls who have completed the first level learn photography and filmmaking and collectively campaign on a social issue that affects their lives. These campaigns are run and led by the girls with only training, mentoring and logistical support provided by FAT team members. So far, 2 such campaigns have been run by the girls. "Apna Haq" in 2013 was on the issue of the lack of clean toilets in the community and how it impacts the health and rights of girls and young women. "Todo Bandishen" in 2015/16 is a campaign against Early and Forced Marriage.
- In the third level girls who have been engaged with us for 2 years or more through participation in level 1 and level 2 and have shown keen interest in continuing their fight for girls rights are given the opportunity to work with us as a volunteer or intern or fellow. This opportunity helps them take a stronger role within their community as an emerging leader influencing lives of women and girls beyond their immediate circle.
- The young women leaders who have completed a successful engagement in all the above-mentioned levels emerge as new leaders within their community and are considers as level 4 leaders of our program.
At FAT, we have a firm belief on and commitment towards young women's leadership. We believe that girls' voices for their rights is needed to bring sustainable change in the status of women and they have the potential to lead the world. We consciously create space within our organization for the emerging young women leaders from the program and induct as many as we can into our team.
In 2016, FAT has also expanded this program to Jharkhand through setting up of a Tech Center in Giridih in partnership with Abhivyakti Foundation. We will be starting centers in Palamu in Jharkhand and Pune in Maharashtra within 2016. We have also shared our model and provided technical support for its implementation in Vadodara, Gujarat, to Sahiyar Stree Sangathan, a local women's rights organization.