Shadhika Shadhika

This young woman leader has been leading awareness work on gender rights, child marriage, and child labor.

When She Leads: Karthika*

July 1, 2024

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Shadhika Scholar collection. Learn more.

*Name changed for privacy

Karthika* is 23 years old and from Nagenahalli, in Karnataka. Karthika’s mother was forced into the devadasi system and works as an agricultural laborer. Karthika has faced immense pressure from her family to also be forced into the illegal and exploitative practice of the devadasi system. But today Karthika is a leader, poised to pursue a PhD as she awaits the results of her applications at Harvard and Oxford universities.

A film screening in progress at Sakhi

From a young student at Shadhika Program Partner Sakhi Trust, who supported Karthika’s education, Karthika has now grown to counsel younger girls at the organization after she completed the counseling course on ‘Women, Wellness, and Justice.’ She is involved in activities and training around the themes of gender, class, caste, environment, health, and education. She has also been leading awareness work on gender rights, child marriage, and child labor.

Karthika was able to enroll 170 women from her community to join the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme, and is working towards ensuring that the provisions of such government schemes are fairly provided to the women.

Karthika worked with the team at Sakhi and the Government of Karnataka on the “Devadasi Rehabilitation Bill” draft committee. As part of this committee she interviewed devadasi women and youth from across Karnataka state and contributed her insights to the draft policy.

Karthika now supports the education of her sisters. They too are now pursuing college education and are engaged with Sakhi’s programmes along with Karthika’s mother. Karthika herself has completed her post graduate degree from the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and is now working in New Delhi with the State Council of Education Research and Training.

Karthika’s dedication, hard work, and spirit for gender justice is an inspiration as she creates waves of change for an entire community through her leadership.

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