Two years ago, I sat with some young women in a programme the Aga Khan Foundation runs in Uttar Pradesh. They held hands or leaned on each other. Some had never been to school; others were withdrawn by their parents. A few were already married. They had struggled to get permission to join, but their parents were convinced by the vocational training offered alongside reading, counting, and ‘life skills’ – self-esteem, confidence, financial literacy and adolescent health.