Through a 14 session module and a self-run project, the Shakti program empowers and builds the resilience of disadvantaged, vulnerable girls. Shakti enables them to design and run their own community projects and experience the power of collective action, so that they can bring about change both in their communities, and to their own lives.


Vulnerable girls are...
Shakti girls...
  • out of school or likely to drop out
  • dare to dream, aspire to study and work
  • married off as early as 13 or 14
  • feel more confident about resisting child marriage  
  • exploited, often working in dangerous situations and for long hours
  • know about their rights and share information on helplines with other girls in their community

  • isolated, struggling with abuse or violence
  • feel better supported and have peers and friends they can turn to in times of need

  • susceptible to early pregnancies and contracting HIV
  • have participated in discussions relating to personal safety, relationships and keeping safe

  • not confident, dare not challenge traditional practices or speak up in front of their families
  • develop and run their own community projects, affect changes in the community, talk and negotiate with authorities and family, and thus understand that they can make a change in their own lives!





What Shakti does

Till date, 138 Shakti community projects have been initiated by girls. While some have run for two years, some have been short and intense. And all have demonstrated that Shakti girls can make a difference. 


  • Twelve girls in Govandi, one of Mumbai's largest slums, started a school readmission program that admitted over 750 children to school
  • Handpumps in Patna, Bihar: Fifteen girls from Haridaspur in Patna, Bihar managed to get the local Ward Officer to commit to another handpump, solving their problem of carrying heavy buckets of waters over long distances every day. Read more about Shakti projects »


The Shakti process 

We have developed a replicable model with tools that can be used to empower vulnerable girls in risky neighbourhoods across India. 


  • Reaching vulnerable girls: Peer leaders and community girls themselves refer and induct more girls into the group - be it friends, sisters, neighbours or cousins. “We know the ones who don’t go to school or have no friends or who are having a hard time at home.” Meet our peer leaders »


  • Inspiring and Informing: The Shakti workbook offers a 14 session program that combines creative activities, discussions, and assignments. Small groups of five to ten girls do a workbook together with a peer leader. The workbook is designed to take girls on a journey starting with looking at “the self”: dreams, study and work aspirations, personal safety relationships as well as help them understand their broader, macro-environment to  include information on rights, women’s movements and their community. See how a session in the Shakti Workbook look like »


  • Activating Groups: By the time the workbook is finished, Shakti girls have developed their own community projects. From anti-child marriage projects to educational drives, from sanitation to those concerned with basic amenities, these community projects help Shakti girls to connect with their communities on different levels. Read more about Shakti projects »


  • Sustaining Peer support networks: Shakti Circles are driven by peer leaders and are designed to ensure that the girls stay motivated about their educational and vocational goals as well as their community projects. The Shakti Peer Leader Training Toolkit helps ensure that Shakti Circles combine fun, updates, incentives and rewards along with exercises to “rehearse” challenging situations at home, in school or in society.  

Shakti Partners

We work with various community-based organizations to further roll out the Shakti Program in more communities and to refer Shakti girls with specific needs (like education or counseling on abuse) to our support partners. Shakti partners include Prerana and CHIP (Mumbai and Kolkata), Meljol (Akola), and Humari Muskaan (Kolkata).

To know more about the Shakti Training Toolkit or the Shakti Peer Leader Toolkit click here »


Today Shakti runs in Mumbai and Akola district and we have just started with groups in Kolkata and Patna. Next year, we want to be present in five cities, reaching  5,000 girls, and in 2014 in 10 cities helping 15,000 girls find their Shakti. If you want to support the roll-out of Shakti click here »


Shakti’s reach

At present, Shakti runs in Mumbai, in Akola district, Kolkata and Patna. Next year, we aim to be present in 5 cities (Mumbai, Patna, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata), reaching out to 5,000 girls, and by 2014, extend our reach to 10 cities, thereby helping 15,000 girls find their Shakti.

If you want to support the roll-out of Shakti click here »

Who are these Shakti Girls

  • Riya, a 14-year-old who lives in Kolkata, currently in school believes that even if she is educated she has no choice but to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a sexworker.
  • Shaheen, a 16-year-old in Govandi, Mumbai, whose parents insist that if she continues school she will not be eligible for marriage the following year.

Girl power

  • Shakti girls in Dharavi, Mumbai motivate and coach girls who have dropped out of school
  • Shakti girls in Govandi, Mumbai were instrumental in re-admitting over 750 children back into school over a period of two years.
  • Between 2011 and 2014, around 15,000 girls will find their Shakti!
  • In 2011/2012 around 5,000 girls in the five cities of Mumbai, Patna, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar and Kolkata will join Shakti neighbourhood networks.
  • Since 2009, over 1,428 girls have participated in the Shakti program.

Why Shakti

  • On 1st of April 2010 education became the right of every child in India. But India's girls are not able to access this right.
  • 50% of girls between the ages of 10 and 13 drop out of school. Most are forced by their parents to quit.
  • Girls aged 6 to 14 spend an average of nearly eight hours a day caring for other children in the family
  • With female foeticide discrimination against girls starts even before they are born and goes on with being denied access to education
  • Across India, there are 7.1 million fewer girls than boys aged 0-6 years leading to a declining sex ratio of 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.
  • We believe that girls will be able to access and harness opportunities for development, only if there is a change in existing mindsets and deep-rooted attitudes towards women.