Ideas for Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment by Skill Development and Vocational Training, from Parul Mehra, Social Sector Leader

Parul Mehra is a social service professional. She is the Chief of Projects and Corporate Affairs at ETASHA Society*, where she has been working for the past 17 years. She possesses a deep understanding of the complexities of social issues and develops innovative solutions and programs that make a positive impact on the lives of individuals. Parul envisions a world where every woman is secure, can inspire many by being a role model, and has her head held high!

She is a Post-graduate in Psychology and in Population Ecology. Parul has a daughter who’s now working and a son who is in college. She lives in Delhi. Follow her on her social media handles, where she shares inspirational stories and pictures from her on-field work

*ETASHA (Enabling and Training Adolescents for Successful and Healthy Adulthood) was set up by Dr Meenakshi Nayyar in 2006 and is a not-for-profit organization working to skill underprivileged communities for sustained employment and income generation. They work with low-income communities, with a special focus on youth, adolescents and women. ETASHA’s vocational skills programs empwer young girls with skills that make them employable, especially in the services sector. Their Women Entrepreneurship Program provides handholding support to illiterate or semi-literate stay-at-home women, for starting and managing their own enterprises. Website Link –

In this conversation, Shravani Prakash speaks to Parul to gather insights from her on-field experiences of working at ETASHA to economically empower women from underprivileged and conservative backgrounds. Here, Parul shares stories and anecdotes that show how their initiatives for skill-development, employment generation and entrepreneurship support have brought about mindset-level changes, and how enabling the entire ecosystem is required to bring about an upliftment in the economic and social status of women.

The full-length podcast is available on Youtube

Part 1, Conversation with Parul Mehra – Introduction, Need for skilling women and ETASHA’s Work
  • In the services sector, skilling and training helps to bridge the gap between talent requirements and supply of young people with potential
  • Various gaps need to be bridged to make people from rural areas and underprivileged communities employable and financially independent
  • Skilling and vocational training provide a bridge that ensures that girls don’t drop out after finishing school because of lack of employable skills
  • Women after having children also look for avenues to earning and becoming financially independent
Part 2, Conversation with Parul Mehra – On Inspiring Stories and impact of Employability skilling & Enabling Women’s Entrepreneurs
  • Skill-building interventions are only effective if they also provide employment support
  • Getting girls to get skilled and then take up a job often requires involving the whole family, relatives, the community and even the recruiters – need to involve and enable the whole ecosystem
  • Creating role models helps to show women to pave the way and help convince families of other girls
  • Skilling especially gets girls jobs in the services sector (retail, hospitality, sales, administration)  
  • In rural areas, there have been cases of change in the mindsets of in-laws who are supporting daughters-in-law to become employable and earn an income
  • Once women work, they are able to be a part of the decision-making of the household and express their opinions
  • There are several success stories of women taking on entrepreneurial ventures in rural areas, with a bit of handholding, support, and direction
Part 2, Conversation with Parul Mehra – On how long-term CSR funding is needed to create real impact from social projects
  • Corporates (via their CSR Funds) can help scale up social interventions by providing long-term funding for projects -so that they can be scaled up and their influence can grow, and lead to behavioral and mindset change
Part 4, FWD Podcast Ep 2 with Parul Mehra – On her role models, gender-neutral parenting and social sector as an employment option for women
  • Having strong, career women in one’s family can be a great enabler for women – and helps them develop a growth mindset
  • To bring mindset change in families, it is important to enable your entire ecosystem, including relatives – one must call out wrong practices and challenge them to stop disempowering practices in households
  • Girls must not be restricted to play only certain games
  • Anyone strongly passionate about bringing change must look at joining the social sector 

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