Shadhika Shadhika

Covid-19 Response in India

Sharing the stories of our grantee partner sites and the young women of Shadhika as they navigate the pandemic.

We want to share what is happening in India.

Below, we will collect the stories of our grantee partner sites and the young women of Shadhika as they navigate this crisis in their communities, along with relevant news and organization-wide updates.

Collaborative Storytelling through Covid-19

We are also conscious of the many organizations like Shadhika, working around the world to support and advocate for human rights. To that end, we are proud to be partnering with our friends and fellow Posner Center tenant organizations to share the diverse and beautiful stories of resilience, as each community is navigates the pandemic:


Check back often to see the latest.

5/28/20: India’s Covid-19 Response continues

India’s lockdown continues in most metropolitan areas designated Red Zones, while restrictions are easing in other areas with fewer reported Covid-19 cases. Despite ongoing response, concerns of viral spread outpacing these efforts are evident. BBC News India reports.

5/21/20: Cyclone Amphan hits Indian coast

Cyclone Amphan made landfall close to Sundarbans between West Bengal and Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon, washing away Indian islands to the mainland and uprooting trees and electricity poles in six-and-a-half hours that left Kolkata and most of south Bengal pulverized. Early reports show the cyclone claimed 10 to 12 lives in West Bengal and destroyed over 5,500 house. West Bengal’s chief minister shared the impact of Amphan was worse than the coronavirus pandemic and claimed that there could have been Rs 1 trillion worth of damage due to the cyclone in the region. Continue reading.

5/20/20: Toward a Feminist Foreign Policy

The roadmap to Covid-19  recovery is an opportunity to reimagine a feminist future that centers people, peace, and planet. That is why Shadhika is joining the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and 50+ organizations launching a call for a Feminist Foreign Policy alongside ICRW in the USA. Learn more about our bold vision and show your support.

5/18/20: India’s Lockdown 4.0

India’s lockdown is the largest in the world, covering 1.3 billion people. Since March 24, the lockdown has continued for 56 days and will now be extended to May 31. BBC World News reports.

5/14/20: School closures and the digital divide disproportionately affect girls and young women

Muskan, a Shadhika Scholar with partner site Vacha Charitable Trust, shared her experience with online college courses during the pandemic: “My lectures are now online, but most students do not attend because they don’t have a computer or internet connection. Due to this lockdown, students are not able to study or complete assignments. It has been difficult.”

According to a recent report by UNESCO: “Countries worldwide have closed schools at an unprecedented rate in an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore easy to assume that learners will be safer or better off staying at home than mixing with others in the classroom. The reality, however, is that for millions of girls and young women, particularly those in the world’s least developed countries, school shutdowns bring other risks.” Continue reading the report.

5/12/20: Shadhika Scholars lead response efforts in their communities

As lockdown in India continues, the young women of Shadhika are leading in their communities. Parvati, a Shadhika Scholar is in her third year of university studying towards a Banking and Insurance degree. With our partner site Vacha Charitable Trust, Parvati and other Shadhika Scholars are distributing emergency supplies to their community.

5/11/20: India extends lockdown

India has extended its lockdown as cases begin to rise. Many of Shadhika’s students live in poor communities located in the “red zones” – areas where Covid-19 cases are on the rise. In these high density communities, infection is a true risk. But if a girl is infected, will her health receive priority? Or will she face the same discrimination she always faces and be given treatment last? Help us ensure the young women of Shadhika are taken care of during this crisis. Give to Shadhika’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund today.

5/7/20: A gender lens for Covid-19 response and recovery

We are proud to join The Deliver for Good Campaign and over 700 organizations from across 100 countries to advocate for the world’s governments to apply a gender lens and put girls, women, and gender equality at the center of Covid-19 preparedness, response, and recovery.
Learn more about the campaign.

5/6/20: Shadhika Alumna and fashion designer gets creative under lockdown

Savita, a Shadhika Alumna from Vacha, graduated with a degree in fashion design. She shares how she is continuing to practice her craft during the pandemic: “Until everything is completely back to normal there is no chance to open stores in the retail field. To pass the time I’ve been painting my jackets and pants, using concepts, styling clothes and posting them online. Here I styled a saree that my dad gifted my mom 22 years ago.” Check out her designs here.

5/4/20: For many girls in India, the pandemic will erase access to education.

The Covid-19 pandemic should not mean the end of your education, but for many girls in India, it will. According to a recent UNESCO report, the “economic hardships caused by the crisis will have spill-over effects as families consider the financial and opportunity costs of educating their daughters.” Shadhika is working to prevent this from happening, supporting our grantee partners to ensure those we support are able to keep up with their schooling online and negotiating with their parents when time comes to make sure they are re-enrolled in school. Valerie Strauss reports for The Washington Post.

4/29/20: Observing Ramadan during lockdown

Sabah Siddiqui, Shadhika’s Donor & Program Associate, shares about observing Ramadan this year amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. She shares: “India is a country of many religions and celebrations. During a festival, we are closer to each other and get the chance to learn more about other cultures and religions. But this year, with lockdown, things are different.” Read the story on our blog.

4/28/20: The shift to online classes reveals the digital learning divide

With most in-person classroom learning cancelled for the remainder of the year, many teachers, parents and children in the U.S. have been asked to turn to on-line learning. But how can you continue your education online if you don’t have access to a laptop, the internet, or even a smartphone? Such is the challenge for most of the young women we support at Shadhika. Our grantee partners are working hard to help bridge this digital divide and the government is starting to step up to develop educational tools that can be accessed through other means including radio and television. Abha Goradia reports for The Indian Express.

4/27/20: Learning under lockdown

Our Making HERstory Interns share how the lockdown in India is affecting their college courses and community mentoring work. Afreen shares: “It’s been one month since my college was closed. We are finished with our syllabus. From March, we are studying at home, and we still we don’t know when we’ll take our exams.” Read the blog.

4/23/20: United Nations calls for end to gender-based violence

UN chief António Guterres calls for women and girls to be at the center of all pandemic responses: “Peace is not just the absence of war. Many women under lockdown for Covid-19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. Today I appeal for peace in homes around the world. I urge all governments to put women’s safety first as they respond to the pandemic.” View his full remarks in the video below.

4/22/20: When sheltering in place isn’t in fact safe

What if your “shelter in place” was not a shelter at all but rather an unsafe space? What if you were forced into a 30- 60- or 90-day lockdown with your abuser? Around the globe, since Covid-19 has forced us to stay at home, rates of domestic violence have skyrocketed. For too many women and girls, the choice is untenable, “Do I stay at home to protect myself from the virus but place myself at risk of harm from my brother, father, or uncle? Or do I risk my life to the virus by leaving?” Read Manjima Bhattacharjya’s report on The Indian Express.

4/21/20: Public toilets create increased risk for women and girls

On a normal day in India, women and girls have limited mobility and with the threat of gender-based violence, daily tasks present a myriad of challenges. One such barrier in many communities is the need to use public toilets. Now during the Covid-19 lockdown, what is normally a calculated difficulty, has become an enormous risk. For communities who do not have access to private toilets, social distancing and proper hygiene are nearly impossible. For many of the young women of Shadhika, public toilets are the reality. Read the story on our blog.

4/17/20: Shadhika leaders teach mask making

With resource scarcity on the rise around the world, the young women of Shadhika are responding with ingenuity and creativity. Watch this video of Vidya – a Shadhika Alumna living in Bangalore – shares her take on a face mask made from repurposed materials. The CDC now recommends wearing a mask, in addition to maintaining 6 feet of social distancing, “especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.”

4/15/20: News from India

As India continues on its national lockdown, the burden of household work falls almost entirely on women and girls. Studies have shown that 60 percent of the work Indian women do is unpaid and unrecognised, while for men, the number is just 10 percent. “Men and boys must be sensitised to the huge burden of care work women and girls carry. Boys must be trained in housework. In that sense, the lockdown could be an opportunity to introduce gender equality at home.” Read the article by Divya J. Shekar for Forbes India.

4/14/20: Working from home

Around the world, we are all becoming much more familiar with working from home. And most can attest – it isn’t always easy. Sabah, a member of Shadhika’s staff, shares her experience working from home for the first time while under national lockdown. She lives in Mumbai with her nine family members. Read her article.

4/13/20: Domestic violence on the rise

With “shelter in place” orders ongoing in India, the stress of families inhabiting tiny living spaces for days on end is immense. Most day laborers have lost their jobs. Children are out of school. Food resources are minimal. The current circumstances are fraught with tension and experts are projecting a rise in domestic violence cases as a result. Suyashi Smridhi with Feminism in India reports on the risks of domestic violence during the pandemic.

4/12/20: Partner sites respond with relief kits

Together, our partner sites are providing over 1,000 families across India with emergency relief kits in Shadhika supported communities. These kits will supply the young women of Shadhika and their families with food and hygiene essentials, including items such as: flour, rice or lentils, oil, potatoes, onions, salt, soap, sugar, and tea leaves. Support continued relief efforts like this through Shadhika’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.

4/10/20: India continues to “shelter in place”

What does “social distancing” mean when you live in a 200 sq. ft. house with 8 family members? Such is the predicament for many of the young women supported by Shadhika, who as of last week, are required to “shelter in place” with their families. Confinement to such small spaces would be hard enough, but it will become even more difficult as India heads into monsoon season and the temperatures increase. Soutik Biswas reports for BBC News.

4/8/20: Social distancing in Murshidabad

Tajdina is a Shadhika Scholar with partner site, Jabala, lives in the community of Murshidabad. She shares: “For me and my family, we are staying in home. My father has to go to outside sometimes for necessary purposes like for food. But we are trying our best not to go outside.”

4/7/20: Infections rise and a community is sealed

A typically crowded and energetic place, the community of Bowbazar (a red-light district in Kolkata) has been closed. Our partner site Jabala works in this community which is now vacant as everyone is forced inside. Pranjuckta, a Making HERstory intern, reported today that several cases of Covid-19 were confirmed and the area was sealed. Entrances to the community have been gated and are being patrolled by police. Everyone has been instructed to stay at home – unless they have a medical emergency – and wait for the authorities to sanitize the area. She says: “We do not know when the community will be re-opened. It is a scary time.”

4/3/20: Weekly Recap

Wash your hands with our Making HERstory interns, read an update from leaders at Vacha, our partner site in Mumbai, learn about Durga, a Shadhika Alumnae working on the front-lines as a chemist in her community’s pharmacy, and more.

4/2/20: Durga’s Story

Vaishu Manjunath and Sabah Siddiqui, two of Shadhika’s India staff, spoke with Durga this week. She is a Shadhika Alumnae working as a chemist in a Mumbai pharmacy, on the front-lines against the Covid-19 outbreak. She shares: “Don’t panic. Stay home. By hygienic. Help others who need help. This is the time for everyone to show some humanity towards people in need.” Read her story.

4/1/20: Partner Site Update with Vacha

Shadhika’s partner sites continue to adapt to their realities on the ground in India. Yagna, a Co-Project Director with Vacha Resource Centre in Mumbai, shares: “Our field staff are in touch with the adolescent girls and boys of Vacha through use of family cell phones, and can be there for any crisis that may develop. We are distributing liquid soaps and soaps to Vacha kids. Our youth group has been a great support in this situation. With use of mask and gloves, they are distributing these sanitary material where ever possible. It was also difficult for us to get so many soaps and liquid soaps at a time.”

3/31/20: Global Impact – Hygiene Access

Want to learn how hygiene access during the pandemic is impacting other communities around the globe? Explore stories from our partners: 

3/25/20: India’s 30-day “stay at home” order

Yesterday all residents in India were ordered to stay indoors for 30 days. While such drastic measures are needed to help stop the spread of Covid-19, for the young women supported by Shadhika, a move like this can have dire impacts. As most of their parents are bricklayers, cleaners, rickshaw pullers, street vendors, or garbage collectors, they rely on daily wages to feed their families. With no chance of income for the next three weeks, family food supplies will run short. In a culture where tradition often dictates that girls eat last, the prospect of malnutrition and hunger for our young leaders is a new threat. Shadhika is coordinating with our grantee partners to address this new crisis. Vikays Pandey for BBC News reports.

3/20/20: A message from Kim Burnett, CEO & President

The Covid-19 outbreak has shown all of us how interconnected we are and how small our big world has become. We are seeing how each of our individual actions impact each other– even if we are half a world away… Read more.