The Universal Declaration of Human Rights dictates the collective right to education. However, girls and women in South Asian countries have comparatively less access to education and digital skills than men and boys. The issues result in a gender based digital divide, leading to future skills imbalances and less favourable life chances for women.
Through partner organisations, the British Council has established networks of non-formal community-based girls clubs which are effective in reducing barriers, developing girls’ English and digital skills and increasing educational, social and economic opportunity. These clubs have so far reached over 14,000 adolescent girls across India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Building on the ‘English and IT for Adolescents’ (EITA) project which began in partnership with BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities) in Bangladesh in 2012, the project has since evolved to ‘English and Digital for Girls’ Education’ (EDGE), and is currently operating as EMPOWER project.
The programme aims to improve the life prospects of 2,400 adolescent girls in socio-economically marginalised communities in Bangladesh. It will achieve this by
• enhancing participants’ English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues and building their self confidence
• developing participants knowledge of social enterprise, giving them the skills to be able to develop their own local social business ideas in the future.
• improving the leadership skills of a smaller group of peer leaders drawn from the same communities of adolescent girls.