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The mentoring walk in Jaipur – what an enlightening experience it was! Although the walk is over, I am more than happy to share that the mentees did not just gain guidance during the walk, but also established relationships with mentors that will be carried forward. Being the flagbearer for 2011 Vital Voices Mentoring Walk in the Central Park of Jaipur gave me a nobel opportunity to pay it forward in my society. Both the mentors and the mentees were overwhelmed by the successful experience and I am still getting responses regarding the innovative concept of a mentoring walk, thanks to the media coverage we received in leading dailies (see below for samples – click for larger versions). 

This mentoring walk was a collaboration between the Arch Academy of Design in Jaipur, the Government of Rajasthan’s Department of Women and Child Development, and Tie Stree Shakti Rajasthan, an organization working for the empowerment of Indian women through providing practical business orientation/training, mentoring, and access to an entrepreneurial ecosystem, all while supporting each woman’s growing aspirations.

India, known as the land of diversity, is also the land of economic disparity and the Vital Voices Mentoring Walk was a wonderful platform to bring together women from separate strata of society. Underprivileged self-help group women mentees from the Women and Child Development Department were able to mingle with young women who participated in the Vital Arch Leadership Program through the ExxonMobil Challenge Grant, and participate in the walk in order to learn from the expertise of many mentors – ranging from women who work in apparel, textile design and handicrafts to finance, human resources, education and more. Overall, 117 women participated in the walk, including 74 mentees, 28 mentors, and 15 volunteers.

This mentoring walk was a pilot project but I hope to increase the scope and scale of this event in the future with the support and assistance of Vital Voices. Through this, we can continue to contribute towards the empowerment of women all around me.

Archana Surana is the Founder & Director of the Arch Academy of Design in Jaipur, India.

To learn more about Mentoring Walks, check out our Storify, and visit our Facebook for more photos from Jaipur and around the world.