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Using mobiles to drive social change

Anjalli is helping thousands of women access an education

Unilever hero 2017, Anjalli Ravi Kumar

Unilever Hero: Anjalli Ravi Kumar

Lightbulb moment

As Fair & Lovely (FAL) Social Mission Director, Anjalli works to advance Unilever’s efforts on gender equality – by democratising access to opportunities for women. In 2015, a brand campaign inviting women to apply for scholarships attracted 600,000 responses. However, the high cost meant that only 600 could receive support. Anjalli realised the most impactful, scalable and sustainable way of achieving FAL’s goal was to set up a mobile-friendly education platform.

In January 2017, www.fairandlovelyfoundation.in launched, offering a range of courses curated from some of the world’s best digital education providers, including edX.org (set up by Harvard and MIT) and NIIT (India’s largest technical talent development company). After just six months, it had expanded the reach of the FAL social mission, from 1,900 young women in 15 years to more than 100,000, winning praise from UN Women. The target is to empower 5 million women across Asia and Africa by 2020. Growing mobile penetration and the falling cost of mobile data will help FAL drive this social change, at scale.

Wide reach

Every day the platform helps thousands of women – across many geographical territories and with diverse skills and ambitions – to reimagine their future and overcome barriers to education, including lack of freedom to travel far from home, safety concerns and poverty.

For example, 20-year-old Megha, from a small town in India, dreamed of studying for a master’s degree. But her parents wouldn’t allow her to leave home for higher education. They feared that being overqualified would hinder her chances of finding a husband. Through FAL, Megha learned about becoming a data scientist before going on to enrol on a prestigious course from MIT.

Anjalli says: “Women not being able to access work opportunities is one of the reasons why our societies are not making progress in the battle against poverty, disease and ignorance. It’s in all our interests to ensure that the world is a fairer place for women.”

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