Tribal Changemakers from Odisha Create History by becoming Ashoka Youth Venturers
Bhubaneswar: Ashoka Innovators for the Public, India, Youth Venture program recently selected its cohort of 17 young social innovators as role models for the youth, from across India within the age group of 12 and 20. The list features first ever 2 tribal teenagers from India as Youth Venturers. The Youth Venture aims at transforming the youth culture across the country by enabling teenagers to lead change. The program aims to address the gap that majority of children while growing up lackcritical and indispensable skills of empathy, creativity, distributed leadership and team-building skills, which not only has direct implications on the young people entering job markets but also achieving the sustainable developments goals outlined by United Nations. Teenagers represent both the future of the country and the group that is most receivable to being empowered with a changemaker mind-set and cognitive empathy. Ashoka Youth Venture program therefore believes that great entrepreneurs start in their teens.Ashoka India has identified these teen changemakers as young leaders who have been selected on the basis of their demonstrated passion and commitment towards social change, leadership potential and their aspiration to become change representatives for their society. These youngsters are working on diverse projects addressing some key social problemsfrom across the country.The 2 teenagers selected from Odisha are students of prestigious Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences. The details of initiatives led by these teenagers are as below:
Shanti Murmu (age 18) started “Parivartan”:
Moved by many inequalities & difficulties tribal & rural girls face including lack of access to education, forced early marriage, misconceptions of menstruation leading to infections, Shanti started a venture named Parivartan. Parivartan aims at addressing the problem by creating a core advocacy team comprised of Anganwadi workers (AWW-health care centers established in villages), ASHA workers (Accredited Social Health Activist), and youth from her village. The team organizes meetings with Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) and adolescent girls to discuss the pressing issues they face on a day to day basis. Awareness of and solutions to these issues are spread in the form of plays, rallies, posters, leaflets and larger group discussions. The initiative also works towards increasing parent interest in sending their girls to schools (delaying marriage), educate girls on menstrual hygiene as to avoid infections, and integrate these awareness programs into AWW and ASHA, projects that are already established at the community level. Since starting her initiative, more and more girls in Shanti’s village are pursuing higher education, girls are being married off only after the legal age of 18, misconceptions about menstruation have been minimized, and parents are starting to value their girl children more. Shanti has started these initiatives at the cluster level involving adolescent girls, but she hopes to take this advocacy to the Panchyat and Block.
Dharamananda Bhoi (age 19) started “UNNATI”:
Dharamananda is addressing the disinterest and apathy that exists among rural youth when it comes to participating in sports and games as well as engaging with life. Through his venture, Dharamanandais mobilizing youth in rural communities of Odisha by fostering a supportive community around sports and games. He is building partnerships with local youth clubs who help him raise awareness about the importance of sports and games as well as major stakeholders in local government who are actively involved in helping him foster this supportive ecosystem. As an international player of Rugby and originally from a tribal village community himself, Dharamananda sees sports as a tool to impact the physical, psychological and social health of rural youth. It also foster a sense of community among rural youth and improve skills of empathy, problem solving and leadership towards a holistic development of the self. Local sports grounds have been restored and the local Panchayat has extended its support for this initiative. In the future, Dharamanandaplans to create small clusters of youth in different village communities that will continue his initiative of using sports to empower rural youth. He also aims to set up a sports coaching that will ensure the participation of youth from all sectors of society in sports activities and professional training.
The selection process took place in 2 steps with the final round held in Bangalore on 5th& 6thAugust in the presence of an eminent jury comprising of an Ashoka Fellow, Youth Venturers and industry leaders. In coming few months, Ashoka will host workshops and co-creation sessions with veteran social entrepreneurs, thought leaders and experts from business to help the youngsters learn from these experts and each other through regular interactions and knowledge sharing. Through these sessions the youth venturers will learn about micro & macro aspects of running and scaling their social venture in a collaborative environment.Speaking on the occasion, Yashveer Singh, Director, Youth Venture, Ashoka South Asia said, “The success of society depends on what proportion of teenagers become, practice and know that they are changemakers and what percentages of the stakeholders know that they have a successful or failing community depending on whether or not they are building a culture where every young person is a changemaker. Through the Youth Venture program, Ashoka aims to build a collaborative entrepreneurship society by working with like-minded partners such as Kalinga Institute of Social Science to have larger impact amongst tribal and rural children of Odisha.”
About Ashoka & Youth Venture
Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship and generated opportunities for social entrepreneurs around the world to connect, collaborate, and provide value to one another, multiplying the capacity of each social entrepreneur to improve more lives and to change the world. Since its founding over 35 years ago, Ashoka has provided living stipends, professional support services, and connections to a global network of over3500 leading social entrepreneurs in more than 84 countries. Ashoka is the largest association of social entrepreneurs with system changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems and a platform for the growing global network of people dedicated to creating an Everyone A Changemaker™ world. Youth Venture program shares the Ashoka vision of an Everyone A Changemaker™ world: a world that responds quickly and effectively to social challenges and each young individual has the freedom, confidence, and support to drive positive change.