Last October we introduced all of you to The Baale Mane, a nonprofit organization based in India that supports and empowers young women to build a brighter future for themselves through education and personal development. We are still inspired by their mission almost a year later, and hence, their recent fundraising initiative has been selected as our August Pledge beneficiary.
To learn more about their campaign to raise funds to purchase new clothes for the older girls to boost their confidence and reward them for their academic dedication, we interviewed Tiggy Allen, Public Engagement Coordinator of The Baale Mane.
When did you begin working with Baale Mane?
I started working with Baale Mane in March 2015 as a short-term volunteer, and then was offered a more permanent position as the Public Engagement Coordinator, which I took! I’ve been working here ever since.
What inspired you to work with the organization and support female empowerment in India?
I studied Indian gender history at university and so moving to India afterwards made sense to me. There are some serious issues surrounding gender discrimination and violence against women and I wanted to be involved in that.
With Baale Mane, I like the sustainable ethos and the depth of care that is provided for the girls; I think it is a positive approach to a long-term vision of development and empowerment for women. I feel strongly about women’s rights, and for me, it’s the fact that Baale Mane provides the girls with an opportunity for independence and self-sustainability within a social system which strongly discourages it that makes it stand out.
The home provides the girls with a stable, loving, and open environment, which is so important for their personal growth.
Tell us more about the young women at Baale Mane.
The girls and young women at Baale Mane all come from difficult backgrounds; some are orphaned, abandoned, or subject to violence, abuse, or neglect and extreme poverty. They come to Baale Mane between the ages of 7 and 14, and often haven’t had much of a chance for education or participation of any kind.
Over the last year, I have watched new admissions to the home flourish in the Baale Mane environment, becoming more confident, healthy, and happy. Once they arrive, they are taken care of by an older girl, and each girl is assigned a team; daily after-school team meetings ensure they are being heard, and team leaders report any serious issues to the staff.
How did they get connected with The Baale Mane?
Baale Mane takes referrals from the government’s Child Welfare Committee, as well as other short-term shelters and rescue organisations. We also have some girls who are referred by an extended family member or member of the community. Each girl’s application is assessed against our criteria determining the need for admission to the home.
What is PUC? What types of courses are the girls pursuing?
PUC is Pre-University College, the last 2 years of school for the young women. They choose a subject stream – Arts, Commerce or Science. This then determines which college degrees they can consider for their higher education.
What impact will obtaining a degree have on these young women’s future?
Having a degree gives young women a much wider range of well-paid job opportunities, which ensures them independence and the chance to be self-sustainable in later life. Also, the confidence that higher education gives them resonates throughout their life, in social situations, if they come across stigma in the workplace or in the city, and in asserting themselves in relationships.
How does Baale Mane support degree seeking young women?
Baale Mane provides them with financial and emotional support throughout their degree, allowing them to make key life choices and live independently in PGs (paying guest hostels) in the city. Our independence care plan aims to help the young women adjust to life in the city and to gain a good degree.
Once they graduate, we support them in finding a job and then financially for the first 6 months of their working life so they have a chance to build savings. After this, we continue to provide emotional and moral support and they are always welcome to come home at the weekend or if they need anything!
Why is new clothing a beneficial way to support these young women?
All of the clothing which the girls receive is second hand, and we feel that once they start to move out of the home they should be given the opportunity to choose and buy their own dresses. This experience is in itself a new one, and is a chance for them to practice budgeting and decision-making on a personal level. In addition, it helps them feel confident in their new surroundings outside of the home and demonstrates that Baale girlsMane, as an organisation, is acknowledging this new stage in their lives.
This blog was contributed by Tiggy Allen:
Tiggy has been living in Bangalore for nearly 18 months, working as Baale Mane’s Public Engagement Coordinator and is responsible for communications, fundraising, events and ensuring transparency. She moved to India after graduating from a BA History at Leeds University, focusing mostly on Indian history, and is passionate about women’s rights, feminism and social justice.