Paras, 21, lives with his parents and sister in a densely populated development on the outskirts of Delhi’s South West district. He wants to make a career in fashion retail – something of an unusual choice for his extended family and friends who don’t have much knowledge of what it means or involves. Paras is currently enrolled in the Saksham programme and is learning job related skills along with other young men.

He says, “My father is in a government job. Most families and most boys themselves prefer a government job. It is considered as the best option for lifelong security. I guess I will have to try for a government job too but I want to make a career in fashion retail.”

“I have always been interested in fashion. I like dressing up smart and get a lot of comments from friends and other people, especially on social media, where I have more than 250 friends on Facebook.”

“Despite my interest in fashion retail, I wasn’t sure how and where to make a start. It’s not even something I could find out more about from my circle of friends or family as nobody had any idea. So when I got a leaflet about the Saksham programme offering free training for retail jobs, I was really excited.”

“I enrolled for the programme straight away and it was the best decision I ever made. I always dreamt of being able to speak English as it is a basic requirement for any decent jobs these days and more so in the fashion sector because of the kind of clientele it attracts. At Saksham, I am realising my dream. I am learning basic conversation skills in English and progressing very well. It just makes me feel confident that I can join a fashion retailer.”

“I can feel the change in my personality and the way I look at things. The biggest shift has been how I relate to girls. Prior to joining Saksham, I used to be very hesitant speaking to girls. It is not something that boys like me are used to due to the social environment we grow up in. Boys and girls remain distant and many boys struggle with how they relate to girls.”

“At Saksham, the majority of students are young women. It has been a great learning curve for me to train with girls as one group and hold conversations with them. In our lessons, we have been taught about gender relations in all spaces – something that most boys aren’t even aware of. I learnt that there is no job that boys can do and girls can’t.”

“My learnings have totally changed my attitude towards girls. It is nice to see how students who have graduated from Saksham are in jobs where boys and girls work together as one team. I would like to be in a place like that. I respect girls a lot now. I have realised that girls and boys are equal.”