As we were born during the pandemic, most of our work had been online and we did not have the opportunity to meet any of our partners for the longest time. This year some of that changed, we met partners, young students and developed new partnerships. The past year was full of learning, new opportunities and growth. Some key highlights from the year:
Working directly with young people:
In 2021, we did a few online pilots with students but in 2022 we managed to meet young students for the first time and understand their response to our workshops. We could take feedback in real time. We saw that many young students (11 years and above) were unaware or disengaged from local governance processes but at the same time had many ideas for what they should do in their communities to improve them.
We also saw inherent gender biases when we asked young children to imagine what they think politicians looked like or did. We conducted workshops for over 350 children and young adults across Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai over the course of a year and just two groups drew a non male politician. When asked why they did not draw a female politician, they said because they did not any female politicians.
If I were the Mayor contest
We saw this as an opportunity to enhance their curiosity, stand up for their community, activate their problem solving muscle and walk the talk. We invited young people (students in the age group 14 - 19), residing in Mumbai to submit essay or video entries under in Hindi, English or Marathi. We invited students from the ages of 14 - 19 to share their ideas through videos or essays.
We received close to 90 responses over a period of 5 weeks and selected 9 winners for this contest. These young people highlighted that if they were to become they Mayor of Mumbai, they would work towards improving infrastructure by reducing potholes in Mumbai, managing traffic and noise pollution, improving Mumbai’s waste management & garbage disposal, increasing accountability in governance and improving the quality of education in BMC schools by including character building, appropriate behaviour with the intention to make Mumbai safer for women and young girls.
To close the contest, we hosted a town hall with Ms. Surekha Patil, a councillor from Lokhandwala, Kandivali, Mumbai to speak with the winners of the contest about her work and answer their questions. We were hoping to receive a lot more excitement about the contest. This activity was a good learning experience for us, making us realise that there is a big need to engage the Mumbai youth to be problem solvers and help them see the power of active citizenship.
Research on political aspirations
When we started out in the second part of 2020 and we found that most of the data on girls and their political aspirations that exists comes from outside India and there is a huge data gap and that we need to invest in getting this data out there for India. To address this, earlier in 2022, we conducted a pilot study to assess political perceptions and aspirations which received responses from over 400 young people on how they look at politics in India. We saw some interesting trends:
Male respondents reported more familiarity of political processes and leaders than their female counterparts: More than half of the young men surveyed (51 %) said they were familiar with India’s political processes and institutions while, only 40% of the female respondents expressed familiarity with India’s political processes
Young men and women are equally likely to vote but political aspiration has a gender gap: Only 19% of young women expressed a high likelihood of participating in politics as compared to 32% of the young men. We also found that only 9% of the girls and young women surveyed had a positive perception of India’s political leaders, compared to 16 % boys and young men.
To bridge this data gap further, we partnered with researchers from the Luskin School of Public Affairs, at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Sara Wilf and Dr. Wray Lake to conduct research with a sharper focus on the gender gap of political aspirations and political apathy among Indian youth.
You can find our survey link here, please pass it on to anyone from the ages of 14 -22, living in India. We hope to publish our study in the second quarter of 2023.
Building a strong volunteer base
Kuviraa is a volunteer led organisation, we rely on the support of young people who believe in our vision and bring new ideas to life. We have been able to get this far because of the support of several volunteers who have stepped in to lead different aspects of our work over the past couple of years. In 2022, we also partnered with Wonder Girls Academy and had the opportunity to host five bright young girls over a course of two months.
It has been really motivating to see young girls write to us every week, asking to be involved in our work. This was not the case in 2021, it was hard for us to get anyone to volunteer with us but this has changed.
I am grateful to all our volunteers and mentors who keep us inspired every step of the way. Hoping we have a very impactful 2023 and reach hundreds of more young girls on the way.