The girls are apprentice bakers at the Rose Bakery, a women-led community enterprise in Madhya Pradesh, India.
Through selling their loaves and snacks at a stall on the main road that runs past the village, the young women have been able to raise enough money to cover the costs of finishing their education through distance learning.
The Rose Bakery opened as a economic inclusion project in 2016, thanks to support from Youth Economic Justice and the Good Shepherd Sisters with funding from the Scottish Government.
At any one time, the bakery can train 20 apprentice bakers. The apprentices are all Adivasi girls from the local community.
Adivasi people (also known as scheduled tribes) live in the central, northeast, and southern regions of India. Many are geographically isolated in areas of low economic development. Historically, Adivasis have also experienced political and social exclusion.
So far, 44 girls have been trained at the bakery. 15 continue to run the commercial bakery business. For girls working in the bakery, their overall family income has increased by 46 per cent.
And the six women who used their newfound economic independence to pay for school books are continuing to inspire other girls in the community. Seven new apprentice bakers are set to graduate at the end of the year with their own high-school certificates under the Indian Government’s new distance education programme.
Youth Economic Justice (YEJ) is a Scottish non-governmental organisation that works to support the economic empowerment of women and young people in Africa and Asia. YEJ thanks the Souter Foundation, the Corra Foundation and the Scottish Government for their ongoing support.