The Aarohini Initiative About

The Aarohini Intitiative is a Girls’ Empowerment and Education Program, initiated in 2011, that consists of training teachers who are working in Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) in Uttar Pradesh, India. Conceived, experimented, conceptualized and formalized after 10 years of extensive work in Prerna Girls School, Aarohini is designed to enable teachers with the tools and mindset necessary to bring about change in their students’ lives. It aims to create a chain of positive influence with teachers as agents of change who in turn build the capacity of their students to recognize and challenge gender discrimination, and engage with parents to ensure that the rights of their students are protected. The program holds at its core the use of critical feminist pedagogy and community mobilization.

Critical feminist pedagogy is based on the ideology that girls and women must learn to critically examine the social and political conditions of their lies and the systemic of their oppression, then collectively find ways to strengthen themselves, resist oppressive societal norms, and transform their lives. Aarohini uses this pedagogy to first enable the teachers, most of whom are women, to critically examine and understand how gender constructs and impacts women and girls’ lives in India, including their own. By broadening and deepening the teachers’ understanding of gender, they learn to understand how it impacts and decides the course of their and their students' lives. This encourages teachers to examine and redefine an empowering education, expand the understanding of their role as teachers, and understand the theory and practice of critical feminist pedagogy so that they are able to successfully implement it with their students.

Additionally, Aarohini believes that to create lasting change, the process of empowerment must be accompanied by a change in the girls' environment. Community mobilization hinges on expanding the teachers' role and preparing them for collective action. Teachers are urged to become advocates of change for their students. They learn how to drive, initiate, and catalyze change by generating awareness in the parent community, using role-play, music and critical dialogues to engage them and have them reflect on the necessity of girls’ education as well as understand the importance of a girl’s inviolable right to be a free, autonomous person. Community members are also engaged through student-led campaigns and rallies.

Thus, Aarohini is not simply a girls’ education and empowerment program, but an ecosystem that works to eliminate discrimination faced by adolescent girls. It operates on the premise that through self awareness, a supportive and empathetic environment, and a culture of dialogue, girls can achieve positive life outcomes. At its core, Aarohini Initiative is a teachers training program that imbues teachers with the mindset and tools to critically examine the social and political conditions of their lives and the systemic causes of their oppression. They are urged to collectively find ways to strengthen themselves, question oppressive societal norms, and mobilize their communities so as to effectively create long term change and transform their lives. In this way, Aarohini aims to build girls’ aspirations and self-perceptions of themselves as equal, autonomous persons worthy of respect.