Gender and Self-learning: Autonomy for the Vulnerable During Crisis

Because making a choice is always a political decision. And when systems do not allow for that to happen, no amount of agency building exercise will be fruitful.

Our programs and processes have been built upon the vision of enabling self-learners.

Self-learning is a process by which the learner takes charge of her learning journey. This manifests in the form of choosing what to learn, when to learn, from whom, how, and to what extent. While the self in self-learning may sound like everything is dependent on the individual, it is not a lonely activity. The emphasis on self emerges from the need for placing the agency of choice-making in the hands of the learner as opposed to a system or an institution determining the best pathway for an individual to achieve their goals.

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How can we make women ITIs future-ready?

As a step towards bringing more women to the workforce, Quest Alliance – in partnership with JP Morgan – hosted a round table on ‘Driving Holistic Reform in the Women ITI Ecosystem in India’.

With the aim of bridging the gender gap in India’s workforce, the multi-stakeholder participation led to several important solution strategies.

Women’s participation in the workforce continues to decline across the world.  The situation is particularly stark in India, some of the reasons for which are expounded here.

While the battle to fight social norms keeping women away from the workforce will be a protracted one, an urgent step towards bridging the gender gap in India’s workforce was taken in the form of a round table on ‘Driving Holistic Reform in the Women ITI Ecosystem in India’.

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What is keeping women from working in India?

Women’s labour force participation has never looked promising, but the decline in numbers in the last two decades have been alarming. One of the major reasons for this drop is the rise in the number of women in formal education, which in turn delays their entry into the job market.

But the real travesty is that the few who do enter the labour force are faced with gendered distribution of jobs, which is mostly concentrated in low productivity industries.

Women’s careers may be peaking in the world of Indian films, but the narrative in real life tells a different story.  Only 27% are in the labour force – down from 35% in 2004. And this fall is even sharper when seen from the lens of women in the age group of 15-24 years. Almost half are not in education, employment or training, compared to just 8% of young men.

This is critical in the larger context of declining female labour force participation rates (FLPRs).


According to a report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), while 2.4 million women fell off the employment map, jobs for men increased by 0.9 million in the same time period. This meant that while women were quitting jobs, more men were joining the workforce.

Why is this happening? Why are women withdrawing from the world of work?

Continue reading “What is keeping women from working in India?”