Shadhika Shadhika

There is power in the collective, there is power in harnessing the joy of being included.

Solidarity Through Joy

By Vanita Ganesh, Communications Officer

June 15, 2023

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It has been a little over three years since the COVID-19-induced lockdowns hit India, and we continue to grapple with the profound impact it has had on us. While the proportion of out-of-school girls fell to a record 2% in 2022 (Annual Status of Education Report, 2022), women’s employment fell by nearly 40% post-Covid according to a 2020 survey, and up to ten million more girls are now at risk of becoming child brides (UNICEF 2021).

Families are further deprioritizing girls’ education, especially as secondary school is not compulsory and not free, with increasingly expensive higher education. Consequently, early marriage is threatening to become a reality for more girls than before the pandemic. The unequal access to income-generating opportunities, mobility, and decision-making meant that whether at home, school, healthcare centers, or work— women and girls, along with gender and sexual minorities, are the first to bear the brunt of a crisis, with little to no way to take matters into their own hands. 

In the face of these challenges, Shadhika Scholars continue to confront the hetero-patriarchal structure, assuming leadership roles within their communities. In a world that wants women and girls to be seen and not heard, what better way to foster a network of leaders than a three-day celebration of courage, collective action, vulnerability, and leadership? 

The annual Leaders for Change Summit is a space for young women and participants to learn, support each other, and forge friendships. The Summit brings together young women and participants from diverse backgrounds, providing a safe and inclusive environment to express themselves freely and to be curious.  Over the course of three days, some of these young women will learn skills to design and develop projects to advance girls’ rights in their communities.

Scroll through to see moments from the 2022 Leaders for Change Summit, held in Kolkata.

Co-created and co-facilitated by Shadhika Alums and Scholars, the Summits are driven by the inputs and experiences of Shadhika Scholars and the Shadhika partners co-hosting the events, ensuring that these three days are meaningful for the Scholars and address the unique contextual needs emerging from the field. While holding space for the Scholars and Shadhika partner organizations to grow their work as grassroots leaders, Shadhika has the privilege to listen to, learn from and platform the wisdom and experience of the Summit participants.

It is, however, about more than just training sessions and workshops— It is about forging a collective, a movement, to be vulnerable and compassionate and taking stories and memories back home. 

These three days are about the transformative power of collective joy and determination in driving positive change. By providing a platform for shared experiences and fostering a sense of community, these Summits play a vital role in inspiring young women and supporting them as they navigate through challenges, discover their potential, and actively contribute to a brighter future. There is power in the collective, there is power in harnessing the joy of togetherness.

The Scholars and participants we serve have tough jobs: taking on patriarchy by the horns and fighting for their future. The Leaders for Change Summit is a reminder for the Scholars, and for us, that the journey towards achieving gender justice is far from complete. These moments of solidarity and joy will serve as inspiration and motivation to keep carrying on. 

Read more