Shadhika Shadhika


"As a group of young women who have defied all odds, advocated for their rights, and pursued an education, Shadhika scholars are one step closer to equality, equity, and independence."

Leaders for Change Summit 2021

By Kendra Nicolai, Program Officer

August 30, 2021

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“While my internet connection was not great and the screen was blurry and I couldn’t see the lyrics clearly, hearing all of us singing together, it felt like a family. We don’t know one another and some of us have never met, but here, through this Summit, we have formed a unique relationship with each other, and it is so special.”
Rasita, Shadhika Scholar, Jabala Action Research Organisation

Fittingly, Shadhika’s 2021 Leaders for Change Summit coincided with Women’s Equality Day. Living as a burden since the day they are born, Indian girls face many barriers to access tools and opportunities to succeed in life. As a group of young women who have defied all odds, advocated for their rights, and pursued an education, Shadhika scholars are one step closer to equality, equity, and independence. 

The theme of the summit this year aligned with those steps towards independence: to go “BEYOND ALL LIMITS, to dream big, to plan, and prepare for your future.” 60 scholars, alum and graduates gathered virtually from 7 different Indian states for a 3-day summit of expert-led sessions, group activities and networking. With simultaneous translations in Gujarati, Bengali, Hindi, and English to make the content and connections as accessible as possible, the entire event was meticulously and methodically designed to support diversity, inclusion, creativity, and community.

The learning sessions, all curated and crafted to support the Scholars’ continued growth “beyond all limits”, included:

  • – Goal Setting with Shadhika alum, Priya, who walked the group through a personal SWOT analysis, SMART goal creation, and building their own road map.
  • – Financial Planning with Buzz India teaching the Scholars to build a family budget, calculate assets, and set financial goals.
  • – Women’s Health with Dr. Thresia “Teena” Sebastian on coping with mental health, self-care, and ways to improve menstrual health.
  • – Videography with Vitamin Stree featuring tips to using your phone as a tool to capture social justice issues, create impact, and share to a wider audience.
  • – Photography with Studio Ainak highlighting ways to find and capture beauty in everyday life and use photography as an advocacy tool.
  • – Poetry with Shadhika Alum, Sabah and Razia on expressing thoughts by writing powerful and empowering poems.
  • – Job Panel with Shadhika Alum: Priya, Razia and Amkamsoom sharing their experiences and what they wished they had known about finding a job, advice for writing a resume, interviewing, and where to find job openings.
  • – Climate Change Internship Presentations on the climate challenges faced in India, solutions, and how to be a plastic free generation.

At the heart of the Leaders For Change Summit is creating a space for the young women to learn from each other, support each other, share stories, and grow. There are more than just plenary speakers and workshops – there is a collaborative movement behind the scenes where girls engage with each other whether it’s on WhatsApp, through fun daily challenges, or video messages from alum and NGO partners with advice and encouragement.

Every year, the Leaders For Change Summit ends with a celebration of the achievement of Scholars graduating from college and those who have gone above and beyond with leadership in their communities. In her keynote speech at the Scholars’ Graduation ceremony, Shadhika Board Member Uma Iyer reminded the group that “forward progress doesn’t come in leaps, but in small, imperfect steps.” From all of us here at Shadhika, we urge you to keep taking those steps towards your future, keep taking those steps “beyond all limits.” We will be right there with you. 

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