Shadhika Shadhika

We must look for ways to continue educating, empowering, amplifying their voices and supporting them so they can continue pursuing the independence and opportunities they deserve.

Get weekly blog updates

As we near the end of October, our Shadhika team and partners reflected on the multitude of ways we have transitioned and adapted all in-person programming and communication to virtual platforms since March 2020. Indeed, our collective global society is more and more accustomed to the reality of virtual conferences, training, lectures, classrooms, and even gatherings with family and friends.

Shadhika’s first virtual event When She Leads Under Lockdown, was a virtual panel hosting 5 scholars and Shadhika program participants to talk through the current challenges they were facing due to the lockdown and how they were showing resilience and leadership during this time. This event successfully elevated the perspective and voices of Shadhika’s young women to an engaged audience, allowing donors and supporters to hear from them directly. In addition to this event, in recent months Shadhika has convened virtual round table discussions with our partner organizations, hosted our first Live Kitchen Table Conversation on Facebook, and completed our International Day of the Girl 10×100 Campaign over WhatsApp, with Shadhika Scholars and Making HERstory interns reaching out to over 100 young women peers to share the Girls’ Bill of Rights with them.

Shadhika’s partners have also been nimble and rapidly changed their outreach and programming to virtual settings alongside Shadhika. They have had to radically shift their programming from in-person classes, rallies, campaigns, street plays, enrichment and life skills classes to online virtual platforms.  For a society that has limited access to network and internet – with girls being the center of this technology divide – our partners have worked diligently to continue providing a platform for them to share and lift their voices. One of our partners, Milaan, has hosted two separate virtual events with their supporters and young women to continue providing this platform of amplifying girls’ voices. 

Milaan wrote to Shadhika Program Officers, Kendra and Upasana, about their experience of hosting these virtual events.


What was one key virtual event that your NGO hosted on girls’ rights or any similar issue to advance girls’ rights during the time of lockdown?

In the month of October, to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child, we designed two virtual events to amplify the voices of grassroots girl leaders. The first event was held on October 8th; The Girl Icon Leadership Summit (India) and on October 17th our 5th Annual celebration of Girl Leaders (Chicago/NewYork). 

The objective of the Girl Icon Leadership Summit was to create a platform to bring together voices of girl leaders from the grassroots and women leaders for dialogue to understand the issue in the here and now. With this summit, we aimed to drive attention to the compelling need to weave the gender lens into the rebuilding process. The summit is orchestrated around adolescent girls who know their rights (Haq) and have the courage (Hausla) to fight for it. The 4-hour summit also marked the graduation of 200+ Girl Leaders from Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.

5000 adolescent girls joined the Summit from some of the most rural and remote locations, 76 young women from Shadhika also joined the summit. 

The 5th Annual Celebration of Girl Leaders is an annual event held in Chicago every year, but due to COVID-19 a physical event was not possible. We leveraged the power of technology to connect our supporters in the USA to meet and have face to face interaction with Girl Icons. Over 30 participants along with Milaan leadership team, Milaan Foundation US Board and Girl Icons from Karanataka and Uttar Pradesh joined the event.

Both events were focused to amplify the voices of adolescent girls and young women. Shadhika’s partners have had to use various platforms to provide increased participation and allow young women to join such campaigns and summits.  The most important part of these events is allowing girls to speak and be heard.

Vidhya Shah, Chairperson & CEO of EdelGive Foundation, speaking at the Girl Icon Leadership Summit.

What was the role of the young women program participants in these events?

In the Girl Icon Leadership Summit, adolescent girls and young women participated as panelists and shared their experiences, views, and thoughts to build resilient communities ensuring adolescent girls and young women are in the center of the rebuilding process.  They also shared the stage with notable women leaders. Adolescent girls also engaged in creating radio plays, shadow puppet show, self-curated films, and poetry on issues related to adolescent girls such as secondary education, child marriage, gender-based violence etc. 

In the 5th Annual celebration of Girl Leaders, a panel was designed with Girl Icons, moderated by a Girl Icon who is also an employee at Milaan. We also designed one to one interaction of participants with Girl Icons and used breakout sessions for the same. 

Consistent throughout our conversations with the young women and partners, many find it difficult to join virtual events live, due to connectivity issues, lack of a quiet place to attend, lack of technology access and sharing mobile phones with family members.

Girl Icon Panel during Milaan’s 5th Annual Celebration.

What kind of challenges did you face with this event being virtual?

We faced technical challenges on Zoom such as we could only take the summit LIVE on any one of the social media platforms and not numerous channels at the same time. Girl Icons who participated in the summit as panelists, initially faced technical issues with zoom for example they were visible but their voice was not audible. We would definitely try to find more platform options other than Zoom and applications that can help us to take the events LIVE across multiple social media platforms at the same time. 

As stated, many Shadhika program participants and scholars were able to attend Milaan’s Girl Icon Leadership Summit, learning from both the girl leaders of Milaan and notable leaders throughout India.  Despite technical challenges, our partners have pressed on, working to not let such events disappear because in-person events are prohibited.  Another partner of Shadhika, Sahiyar has started online computer sessions with girls to help build the technical skills to access and navigate a computer.


Despite COVID-19 challenging and complicating development efforts around the world, Shadhika and our partners know we cannot let girls be the consequence.  We must look for ways to continue educating, empowering, supporting, and amplifying their voices so they can continue pursuing the independence and opportunities they deserve.

In November, Shadhika is going to pilot a fully virtual Leaders for Change Summit, primarily on the WhatsApp platform with a culminating graduation and awards ceremony live on Zoom.  We are looking forward to trialing this virtual method and continuing to build on the skills that our partners have implemented with our scholars – leadership, empowerment, and resilience.

Follow our social media channels over the next two weeks for Leaders for Change Summit updates and featured content!


Photos courtesy of Milaan Foundation.

From the Field: October 2020

October 21, 2020

As we near the end of October, our Shadhika team and partners reflected on the multitude of ways we have transitioned and adapted all in-person programming and communication to virtual platforms since March 2020. Indeed, our collective global society is more and more accustomed to the reality of virtual conferences, training, lectures, classrooms, and even   

The Real Cost: Denying Intersectional Gender Justice

October 15, 2020

Over the last few months and into next year, the experts are clear: Special attention must be paid to girl-centered issues in order to mitigate the regressive effects of the pandemic on gender equity around the world. For instance, the lack of access to menstrual hygiene still holds girls and women back. In India and   

Strength & Confidence

October 14, 2020

All young women deserve equal access to education and an opportunity to determine the exact circumstances of their lives. As an educated accomplished woman, I feel it is my responsibility to lift the next generation to dream big dreams and achieve their fullest potential in India and around the globe.  Shadhika’s work and mission are opening   

When She Leads: Swati

September 28, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more. Swati is a rising 12th grade student who plans to pursue a Bachelor’s of Medicine to become a medical doctor. She is a program participant and a Grade 11-12 Shadhika Scholar with our partner site Vacha in Maharashtra. Swati was interviewed by Program Officer   

The Gift of Education

September 27, 2020

What a difference a year makes – one year ago we were excitedly planning our first trip to India with our children.  I’d grown up visiting family in India every few years and the impression it left on me was both of a rich culture that connected me to my roots and also of a   

When She Leads: Geeta

September 18, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more. Geeta is a rising Shadhika Scholar who plans to pursue a degree in Business Management. She is a program participant with our partner site Vacha in Maharashtra. Geeta was interviewed by Program Officer Kendra Nicolai and Donor & Program Associate Sabah Siddiqui. Press play   

From the Field: September 2020

September 17, 2020

In August 2020, as India celebrated it’s 74th Independence Day, the central government announced they would increase the legal age of marriage for Indian women from 18 years to 21 years with the hope of halting issues related to the age of motherhood, maternal mortality rates and child nutritional levels. The existing law, “The Prohibition   

The Technology Divide

September 16, 2020

It is undeniable that the spread of the coronavirus is pulling the curtain back on the most severe inequalities around the world and exacerbating their impact on the most marginalized. The anecdotal evidence and early data paint a grim picture of the compounding effects of COVID on existing vulnerabilities affecting women and girls in India.   

When She Leads: Mangala

September 9, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more. Mangala is a rising Shadhika Scholar and plans to pursue a degree in Teaching & Education. She is a program participant with our partner site Baale Mane in Karnataka. Mangala was interviewed by Program Officer Upasana Saha and Marketing & Program Associate Vaishu Manjunath.   

Scholarships & Pen Pals

September 3, 2020

Have you ever been so moved that you just had to do something? That’s exactly what happened to me when I was first introduced to Shadhika’s work in India. We all have causes that pull at our heart strings or touch us personally. For me, it’s always been children and especially those who are disadvantaged   

When She Leads: Tajdina

September 1, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more. Tajdina is a second year Shadhika Scholar pursuing her degree in Nursing. She is a program participant with our partner site Jabala in West Bengal. Tajdina was interviewed by Program Officer Kendra Nicolai and Donor & Program Associate Sabah Siddiqui. Press play to hear   

In Pursuit of Gender Equality

August 27, 2020

In July, Shadhika started sharing blogs from our board members. In their own words, Susan and Lisa expressed why they are serving on our board and what their respective vision is for the organization and our program participants. The series will continue into the fall, so keep an eye out for those blogs! In the   

From the Field: August 2020

August 13, 2020

With nearly 370,000 known COVID-19 cases and over 12,000 related deaths, India is in Phase I of re-opening the country after nearly 3 months of strict national lockdown. This means that places of worship and select hospitality businesses–including shopping malls–are allowed to be open while respecting social distancing precautions. Whether or not the country will   

Transformation

August 6, 2020

When women–all women–share equitably in the economic, political and social leadership of our world, so much of what we hope for–equality, peace, climate justice, healthy democracies, healthy and educated people, to name a few–are transformed.   This is why I support Shadhika, and believe in our mission with all my heart.  Our world’s largest democracies   

Making the Shift

July 15, 2020

Whatever our individual life circumstances, it is a safe assumption that we are never going back to the way things were.  First, the novel coronavirus has altered the status quo of human interaction. Even after a vaccine against COVID-19 is successfully created and distributed, epidemiologists agree that the customary use of facemasks and health checks   

An Invitation to FundHER

July 8, 2020

Shadhika’s mission is grounded in my wife Juthica’s original desire to remedy the plight of disenfranchised women in the Non-Criminal Lunatic wing of Calcutta’s prisons. Equipped with her Master’s Degree in Social Work, Juthica’s first job was with the YWCA in Calcutta and one of Juthica’s assignments was to visit women in local prisons, as   

When She Leads: Mirekha, Navya, Nritha, & Meera

June 29, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads Under Lockdown series. Learn more. COVID-19 continues to keep the young women of Shadhika isolated from friends, school, and their NGO community centers. In this interview, four young women at Baale Mane, our partner site on the outskirts of Bangalore, discuss their experiences since the lockdown   

COVID-19 Field Update

June 19, 2020

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Shadhika raised over $20,000 for our COVID-19 fund to give our partner sites the flexibility to address emerging needs on the ground. Over the last 3 months, India has been under a strict national lockdown, leaving businesses and schools closed and leading to devastating unemployment rates. Our partners listened to the   

When She Leads: Reshma

June 15, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads Under Lockdown series. Learn more. Reshma is a third-year Shadhika Scholar pursuing a nursing degree at Rufaida College of Nursing Jamiya Hamdard in Delhi. She is a participant with our grantee partner site, STOP India. Reshma was interviewed by Kendra Nicolai, Shadhika’s U.S.-based Program Officer. Hi   

How can grant-makers make a difference?

June 10, 2020

Change is hard. Whether it is a change in our personal relationships or in a job situation. In a moment when change feels particularly needed yet thorny, what can we do as grant-makers to make a difference? I assumed my new position as the world was shaken by the deadly spread of COVID-19 through our   

Shadhika’s Commitment to Racial Justice

June 3, 2020

Shadhika exists to equip girls in India with the skills and confidence to overcome the violence, discrimination, and injustice that deny their human rights. Those rights are inalienable and justice is indivisible. We believe that the fight for gender equity in India is inextricably tied to the fight for racial justice in the U.S. We support