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Mentorship

for India.

A pioneering online peer-mentoring program to develop the potential of young women for a better India.

The Problem

India needs more of its women to join the workforce.

Read Economist Article

Decline in Workforce

In the last decade, the number of women joining the workforce has declined by 7%

Not Enough Women

Just 23% of our women enter the workforce (formal and informal).

Lowest Rate

We have one of the lowest female labor participation rates in the world. Lowest amongst G20 countries other than Saudi Arabia.

Wasted Demographic Dividend

India’s young workforce is not a real asset if more women don’t join the workforce.

We have made incredible progress as a country but real progress is when all Indians have the opportunity to work for a better future.

Or Indian men will be left holding up only half the sky.

“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a nation.”

If the Indian workforce were gender-balanced the country would be 27% richer.

This is a big problem and realistically a mentoring program is not going to solve it but if we can even manage to keep some young women in education and join the workforce, we will be helping.

India has another incredible resource in its women – its very talented and highly educated young women in the diaspora.

This is where HiDidi comes in…

What is HiDidi?

Pioneering online peer mentoring connecting underprivileged young women students in India with college girls of Indian-origin in the West.

Using free communication services like Whatsapp, it fosters a mutually supportive relationship between the Mentor and Mentee.

Our Mission

Our mission is to develop the potential of young women for the future of India.

What do we do in India (Mentees)?

Provide underprivileged young women with practical and emotional support so that they stay in education and join the workforce.

What do we do outside of India (Mentors)?

Get Indian-origin young women, part of the diaspora, vested in the progress of India through meaningful interactions with underprivileged students and by connecting them with their roots.

As the diaspora is more connected to the future of their country, they are more likely to give back. What distinguishes HiDidi is that this is a long-term mentorship where the mentors see their mentees through school, college, and the workplace by providing both practical and emotional support.

Who we are?

The HiDidi Story

A young woman fails her Maharashtra police exam by a few marks and decides to give up on her dream of becoming a police officer. She doesn’t do this because she is poor, or a woman, she does it because she is tired of fighting the system alone.
Another young woman starts college in the melting pot that is America and begins to seek her Indian identity. Begins to seek an India beyond the usual stories of religious strife, caste, and Taj Mahal tourism. Begins to seek a country she has actually never lived in.
When the two meet, barriers of class, privilege, and language seem to fall away and the underprivileged young woman is happy to confide in and get advice from an empathetic peer. And the empathetic peer, through this interaction, finds a meaningful way to connect with her roots – her country.
This is the genesis of Hi Didi, an organization that believes that if India is to truly progress, it needs greater participation from its women – all its women. It needs more women in India to stay in education and join the workforce. And it needs to tap the incredible talent we have in our young women of the diaspora.
Today HiDidi is proud of its growing body of mentors in the US, UK, and Asia. These young women who are in challenging university courses and demanding jobs take the time to volunteer and make a difference. HiDidi is also incredibly proud of its inspirational mentees at Avasara. And for our founder, Divya Sahney – after having spent over twenty-five years working as a finance professional, strategic planner, and a freelance brand consultant in New York, London, and Hong Kong – HiDidi has finally allowed her to give back to her country as an expatriate.

Avasara

Our partner for this initiative, Avasara, is an incredible school. It is a progressive secondary school for girls, where students selected solely on merit engage in a specialized curriculum that combines academic excellence with Leadership, Entrepreneurship and India Studies.Their financial assistance program seeks to ensure that all admitted students can attend.

JOIN

Join us on our journey…

become a Mentor, Mentee or Big Didi.

As a Mentor

We are very proud of our growing ‘army’ of mentors across the US, UK, and Asia. Our mentors are Indian-origin girls who have grown up outside of India. They are between 18-28 years old. As the peer mentor format works well for this program, our mentors are either in college or recently graduated from college.

Our current mentors are from diverse institutions such as Columbia University, UCL, Huron University, Oxbridge, and Hong Kong University, and our graduate mentors work in fields such as consulting and the NGO space. An important criterion is that this is something a potential mentor is really keen to do as this is on a volunteer basis.

“The opportunity to connect with and mentor someone who mirrors many of the passions and values I see in myself today is one of the most rewarding experiences.”

Aastha
Columbia University

“Being a mentor in the HiDidi Program has helped me forge a connection to India beyond my immediate family. By getting to know my mentee on a personal level and supporting her through her academic endeavors, I really feel like a Big ‘Didi’, which is a rewarding experience.”

Shefali
Columbia University

“HiDidi has given me a space to talk about my future plans, space to better understand where I am. There have been many conversations with my mentor where she has pointed out things that I have done that she says are incredible, but I never thought about it – this has really helped me to introspect about my own accomplishments.”

Nandini
Avasara

As a Mentee

Our mentees are currently all from Avasara. They are secondary school students from underprivileged backgrounds who benefit from the practical and emotional support from HiDidi mentors. While at the same time, they help their mentors connect with India in a meaningful way.

We are very proud of our first batch of mentees who have just graduated from Avasara and gotten admission into fantastic colleges in India and abroad on scholarships. These young women are an inspiration to us all!

“I really enjoy being part of the HiDidi Mentorship program. My mentor was of great help during the college application process and also gave me comfort as she could understand what I was going through. This mentorship is really helpful and fun at the same time!”

Sharon
Avasara

“HiDidi has given me a space to talk about my future plans, space to better understand where I am. There have been many conversations with my mentor where she has pointed out things that I have done that she says are incredible, but I never thought about it – this has really helped me to introspect about my own accomplishments.”

Nandini
Avasara

HiDidi is a peer-mentoring program as we believe that young women are more likely to take counsel from a caring empathetic peer, however as the mentees progress through college, we felt that they would benefit from the ‘additional’ mentoring of an experienced, older mentor, well-established in their field.

The Big Didi Program

To the best of our knowledge, HiDidi is the only of its kind. Being a pioneering, relatively young program we will need to constantly update and improve the program based on learnings. One of the learnings, as our first batch of Mentees are graduating is that the mentorship program would get even stronger with the addition of ‘Big Didis’ as the overall objective of HiDidi is to make sure that young Indian women stay in education and join the workforce.

Who are the Big Didis?

Successful, empathetic, Indian-origin women, well established in various fields, who would like to share their expertise with younger women. A majority of them will be in India but some will be outside of India. Big Didis will be selected on their genuine desire to mentor other ambitious young women and not just to tick-box a CSR requirement. This will be on a volunteer basis.