How WEP Began 

In 2002, at our first Center in Madurai, we formed our program, now called the Leadership Academy, by listening to our students. Initially offering scholarships and academic support from a small rented home surrounded by a garden, the program evolved from students’ tea-time conversations. Young women, voiceless at home, now had a safe space to discuss issues, needs and problems and to laugh and dance. By listening, we formed our Certificate curriculum, started a daily nutritious snack and kitchen garden program, created a library and computer lab and showed how the program as a whole, needed to be holistic, flexible and easily adaptable to the local culture. Most importantly, our students’ need for space and friendship, formed the heart of WEP – our Sisterhood.

WEP’s Leadership Academy

At the Leadership Academy, within a community of peers and an inclusive, exploratory learning environment, young women from marginalized backgrounds discover their inner spark, nurture their leadership potential, while gaining knowledge, skills, and a broad understanding of their opportunities. The Academy program is provided at the Center, a safe space to socialize, study, and grow among friends. Students who are at a distance from the Center, attend Satellite programs. 

The Academy provides 5 certificates to develop professional and life skills, Next Steps scholarships to join area colleges, internships and training programs, and an Alumnae Association for continued friendship, support and opportunities to mentor new students. WEP’s doors are always open.

The Academy’s Five Certificates

1

Foundations

Leadership, Mind, Body & Spirit, Health, Nutrition, Gender, Financial Literacy, Rights, Culture & Society.*

2

Skills

Study skills, advanced technology, communication (local and global languages).

3

Specialized Skills

Student-selected: coding, career-ready skills, exam prep, crafts, and arts.

4

Exploration

Project-based field trips within and beyond the local community.

5

Ripple Effect

Changemaker courses.

Experiential Community-Based Learning

Women’s Collaboration Lab

The Women’s Collaboration Lab supports the work of the Academy, ensuring all programs align with WEP’s deeply grassroots and holistic approach and promote inclusiveness ensuring young women anywhere within India’s vast cultural landscape will be served. The Lab provides a Partnership Consortium to share information and collaboratively shape curriculum, training on program and local fundraising techniques, and special student programs that offers partnership-wide Academy sessions, scholarships, and entrepreneurial grants.

Our Partners

Girl-Focused India-Based NGO Partners

The WEP Academy and its impact is made possible by its partnerships with India-based NGOs, each partner knowing the unique circumstances of the local community to most effectively run the Academy. WEP and NGOs together provide a bridge for young women as they enter adulthood, the Academy serving as an extension to preexisting programs that end at adolescence. Partners range from independent to transformation, depending on the funding infrastructure.

THE WEP ACADEMY AT
THE WEP ACADEMY ATMadurai
Directed by A. Vijayalakshmi

Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India

In Partnership with Asian Institute for Rural Development (AIRD)

THE WEP ACADEMY AT
THE WEP ACADEMY ATUshassu
Directed by Esther Subhashini

Hyderabad, Telangana

In Partnership with Centre for World Solidarity (CWS)

THE WEP ACADEMY AT
THE WEP ACADEMY ATKadapa
Directed by P.V. Sandhya

Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh

In Partnership with VFT, Aarti Home

Our Students and Alumnae

In 2020, WEP surveyed 200 enrolled students and alumnae who responded: 

64%

Entered formal sector professional & entrepreneurial careers (pre-pandemic)

75%

Credit WEP as the principal factor in securing employment & attaining higher income

95.8%

Highly recommend WEP

96%

Expressed confidence in attaining career goals (despite COVID-19)

100%

Marry after age 18

“My favorite part of the Leadership Academy is the life skills workshops to help our students make informed decisions, communicate effectively and [become self-reliant]. It imparts soft skills relating to emotional and social intelligence to cope in a competitive world.”

A. Vijayalakshmi, Sudar Center Director

“Academy journals teach life skills, taught neither at college nor home. These journals fill the important gaps in their understanding of the world around them.  The self confidence, skills, and self-worth they develop at WEP – one cannot put a price tag on it.”

Esther Subhashini, Hyderabad Center Director

“In our first year in Madurai, we noticed girls crying about their mother’s illness, a loan shark’s visit, or marriage pressure. We began the Leadership Academy for young women gain their voice to make decisions and choose how they wish to participate.”

Zoë Timms, Founding Director