Project: The Girl Icon Program: Empowering Adolescent Girls through Leadership Development

Location: Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh

Category: Education and Empowerment

Utter Pradesh alone accounts for 20% of the adolescent population in India. Uttar Pradesh ranks first with the maximum number of adolescents in both rural areas (38.5 million) and urban areas (10.4 million) in the country; with many adolescent girls especially from socially and economically backward communities face gender inequality. They have little or no say in decisions regarding education, marriage & motherhood. They spend less time in school than boys; perform a disproportionate share of domestic work. Often, they are victims of physical, emotional and mental violence. Girls have limited access to information regarding critical issues of health & hygiene, safety, saving & investments and livelihoods. Further, patriarchy is persuasive and entrenched across social networks due to male dominance, starting from families to communities. A harsh ecosystem coupled with lack of information tools leave them vulnerable, impedes their growth and development.

IDS will be funding The Girl Icon Program which will empower 300 adolescent girls (12 to 18 years) school going and out of school from low income communities living across 15 villages in Raebareli, Uttar Pradesh for 3 years through this leadership development program which invests in collectivizing girls at the grassroots, delivering comprehensive life-skills based education and instigating collective social actions on issues that affect adolescent girls.

The program supports and guides adolescent girls to be responsible leaders through experiential leadership training, providing safe spaces to amplify their voices of change and opportunities to sensitize and mobilize communities with their social action projects. Their actions have shown their confidence and courage to be leaders. Their assessment has revealed that 100% of the girls feel they have an identity. The program has helped develop self-awareness and self-worth in girls, which is important for any leader. By investing in the Girl’s education, community activism, and leadership skills, we create leaders; thereby, enabling them to make lasting social change.

The selected girls participate in 60 hours of leadership development training that equips girls with the requisite knowledge, skills and networks for being a leader. This curriculum is delivered over the course of 30 workshops spread over a year of the leadership journey.

The design framework of the program is built on the core principles of leadership development with three main pillars:

1. Leading Self – Courage and Confidence

  • Ability to gain critical consciousness by growing her sense of self-awareness, confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy.
  • Ability to strengthen the voice, participate and speak up in decisions that shape her life and future.
  • Ability to make informed and voluntary choices based on own preferences.
  1. Leading Others – Leadership and Influence
  • Ability to lead and inspire others.
  • Ability to influence better health and development outcomes for girls and women at large.
  1. Leading Social Change – Collective Action
  • Ability to stand up for self and others in situations that are unfair and unjust – gender or otherwise.
  • Ability to identify opportunities that require social change and create awareness about it in the community.


The training focus on building and enhancing the 4 pillars:

Jaano (know it) covers areas that the girls need to have basic awareness around. This knowledge continues to increase once they are aware and observant of these issues.
Seekho (learn it) covers areas they need to develop their skill around. There will be opportunities to practice and apply this skill.
Jeeo (live it) is the way of life, something that they might inherently know and practice. This covers areas that are important in any walk of life. They will be reinforced through the program.
Badlo (change it) is the application of learning and concepts in a real-life situation. This predominantly entails reflections from successes and failures during the application and reinforces learnings.

Milaan: The Girl Icon Program


IDS coordinator: Manvee Vaid

Project Manager: Chanderkiran Malik