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Mikiko Sawanishi, Deputy Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) visited Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham last week from July 17 – 19, 2013, to observe the AMMACHI Labs’ Women Empowerment (WE) Project in action.
Providing women with a greater voice in the decision-making process at home and in the community holds great potential for strengthening both family and social systems. With this in mind, AMMACHI Labs launched the Women Empowerment (WE) Project in 2012, which seeks to empower 3,000 women in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Jointly funded by the UNDEF and the MA MATH, the WE project offers Computerized Vocational Education and Training (cVET) programs in conjunction with Life Enrichment Education (LEE) to women so they can participate more fully in the democratic process and strengthen their capacity to make decisions at the individual, family, and community levels.
The three day observation focused on visiting the WE training centres, interacting one-on-one with beneficiaries as well as discussions with AMMACHI Labs on their experience in implementing the WE Project. The purpose of the visit was to allow the UNDEF a first-hand look at the progress the WE project has made since its launch, to ensure that all activities were in line with the original project objectives.
Ms. Sawanishi visited three of the eighteen WE centres at Ettimadai, Amritapuri and Evoor, and virtually interacted with participants from the other centres through Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham’s AVIEW online conferencing platform. Participants had an opportunity to showcase everything that they had learned through the course, displaying completed fabric painted and jewellery products, plumbing skills, and demonstrate their knowledge and experience in addressing community issues, as well as share the impact the project has had upon their lives, families and communities.
At the conclusion of her 3 day visit, Ms. Sawanishi shared her thoughts on her observations of the project:
“Everybody was skeptical of your [AMMACHI Labs’] approach to combine vocational education, Life Enirchment Education and ICT. How on earth can you connect LEE to plumbing or ICT or more importantly, women? Once I had a chance to visit one of your centers, it dawned on me. Everything fits in beautifully, and the AMMACHI Labs solution is holistic. None of our UNDEF projects has ever paid so much attention to follow-ups and other non traditional events. I am going to recommend your approach to other projects as well.”
AMMACHI Labs looks forward to the next interaction with the UNDEF during the Milestone 3 audit in September when the graduates will hold a regional expo in Coimbatore. AVIEW will allow the UNDEF to participate in the event in real time.
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