Vikas, 22, lives his parents and two siblings in a rural settlement along the southern border of Delhi. He has done a diploma in electronic communications and wants to get a job in the IT sector. Vikas travels nearly 50 kilometres on public transport every day to attend his classes at a Saksham training centre.

His journey is more than just some distance. Vikas moves between two environments that couldn’t be more apart – a predominantly male-dominated and gender segregated community at home, and a classroom where he is undertaking job skills training alongside girls and also learning about gender equality.

He says, “I came to know about the Saksham programme through a friend. I got hold of a leaflet and was really impressed by the offer of free training and the variety of subjects covered such as communication skills and personality development. I needed both. Also, I had heard about the high success rate of Saksham graduates in finding a decent employment after completing the training.”

“Prior to joining the Saksham programme, I had absolutely no idea what kind of skills employers are looking for, and what it’s like to work in different sectors such as retail, IT and call centres.”

“Most youth like me coming from poorer background are totally clueless about how to enter the decent job market. That’s why I consider myself lucky that I came to know about Saksham.”

“When I joined Saksham the very first thing I noticed is that boys and girls do exactly the same job training together. I learnt that there no jobs that are for men or women only. Both can do the same job.”

“It was a total change of scene for me coming from an area where you rarely see girls in public spaces. Most girls in my neighbourhood are not allowed to continue their education after they pass their Class X exams. Many are married straight after or help with domestic chores until they eventually get married. Getting a job that involves stepping outside the home is not an option for girls. Also there are bad boys in the area who don’t value girls at all and make girls feel uncomfortable. Vikas takes part in a retail role play session at a Saksham training centre.”

“Prior to joining Saksham, I didn’t really have any opinion on girls’ education and their employment after they complete their education, but now I do. I strongly feel that girls must not be discriminated against and they should be allowed to get an education. Men and women should both work.”

“When we meet former graduates, particularly girls, who are now in decent jobs, they tell us at workplace young men and women work together and show mutual respect to each other.”

“I am loving my training at Saksham. It has made me confident and totally changed my outlook towards so many things – from how I conduct myself as a professional to how I relate to girls and women. I have never been taught like this ever before.”