Rural

Young Women Rising in Uttar Pradesh

Rachna, a 19-year-old school drop out got a new direction in her life when she started working as a beautician. The feeling of being financially independent and also being in control of her own life is unmatched for her. Read more about her journey and small victories in life.

In the first three seconds, after Rachna sits down, she straightens her back and visibly changes her posture, in the backdrop is a board in the classroom with ‘Interpersonal Skills’ written on it. She explains, “I know it’s not only enough to know the primary skills, it is important to be confident and focus on how you present yourself in interviews.” Profound words from a young-adult, a nineteen-year-old girl from the peri-urban areas of Khoda, Uttar Pradesh, who until recently carried the tag of a ‘dropout’.

Like many other girls, who could not afford the privilege of education, Rachna was forced to drop out of school in class 9. Her family’s financial condition worsened and only her brother was allowed to study further; a story of gender norms at play, seen consistently over patriarchal landscapes.

Without higher education, access to opportunities, and core employability skills, Rachna became familiar with the life she would eventually lead. “The lives of my sisters, mother, aunts, and grandmother have all been this way, they also had to let go of their ambition in exchange for household work.”

Rachna (left) with a client.

But even as the odds were stacked against her, she never let go of her aspirations of learning and becoming financially independent.

“Young girls should be given the chance to step out of their houses and learn different skills, otherwise how will they ever grow?” she asks. 

For Rachna, this meant making strides by setting out to acquire skills to become an Assistant Beauty Therapist, even when she received backlash at home.

“I loved how parlours in my area have the power to not only make someone appear beautiful, but also provide a space for women to share their lives with one another.”

Yuvakendra’s skill-building workshop

Rachna is now a trained assistant beauty therapist with theoretical and practical skills, as well as client exposure through the Yuvakendra. She has started out as an entrepreneur who does home-visits for various beauty and wellness services. Due to the spread of COVID-19, she has been unable to build on her endeavour, but is resilient in her efforts to restart her work with the precautions in the coming months. She will also be interviewing as an assistant for the various beauty parlours in Khoda. With appropriate skills and a new outlook on life, she is ready to take on the upcoming challenges.

She dreams of opening her own parlour someday and wants to impart skills to young girls who like her are tagged ‘dropouts’.

Rachna Dubey is an Assistant Beauty Therapist who acquired skills for employability in the Yuvakendra, an initiative by HCL Uday – ‘Skill to Livelihood’ and Development Alternatives.

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Ria Chauhan

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