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I want to stand with women who need support and advocate for women who experience gender discrimination and violence.

When She Leads: Priyanka

By Kendra Nicolai, Program Officer & Sabah Siddiqui, Donor & Program Associate

September 24, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more.

Priyanka is a rising Shadhika Scholar who plans to pursue a Bachelor’s of Legislative Law towards a career as a Civil Judge. She is a program participant with our partner site Milaan in Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka was interviewed by Program Officer Kendra Nicolai and Donor & Program Associate Sabah Siddiqui.



Press play to hear Priyanka’s introduction.

Hi Priyanka! What inspired you to want to pursue a career as a Civil Judge?

This is my childhood dream, I have always wanted to be a civil judge. I am interested in this career, because I want to stand with women who need support and advocate for women who experience gender discrimination and violence. 

Since I was very young, I have witnessed violence against women in my village. I have seen so much domestic violence perpetrated by other family members against women. It seems like people are always undervaluing and beating women, but women never speak about the violence. Then there is the issue of child marriage. As per this situation, I feel I have to do something for them. A civil judge is always advocating for women’s rights and bringing justice for women. They are able to provide protection for women, and they give facility to all women. 

What was your experience finishing your 12th grade year and final exams? 

In my final year, I took three exams before the lockdown and two exams during lockdown. However, I did not have any online exams. I had to go to a testing center in another village for the two exams during lockdown. We were able to maintain social distancing and everything was sanitized. In that village area there have been a small number of COVID-19 infections, so it was easier for me to be mobile and travel there. 

I did my college admission online. I had to submit everything for admission online and also had to take hardcopies to the college. 

Will your college classes be online? How do you feel about taking online classes?

My college admission is in process now and will be completed by September. Right now I don’t have any online lectures or classes. After September, the college will update the students on whether classes will be in-person or online. So for now, I do not know. 

The college I will be attending is in a different village than my home. Right now, I am living in the college village with my elder sister. Because there are network issues in our home village, we came to live here one month ago so that we can study. My sister attends this college too.

If classes are online, I can use my sister’s phone. I am feeling nervous, because I have never attended any online classes. I am anxious to know how I will understand online classes. When lectures are in person, I feel I can understand any topic due to the teacher and atmosphere.  

Priyanka with her sister.

How do your parents feel about you studying?

My parents are always tense about my sister and I living so far away, but at the same time, they are so proud.  Both of us are great students and they are feeling proud of our accomplishments.

How is the COVID-19 situation in your community?

My home village where my parents are living is totally safe. There are very few people who have COVID-19.  There are many more cases in this community where I am living now.  Near my current area one patient has been identified as COVID-19 positive.  Here, the lockdown is so strict, so I am always at home. If I need groceries I have to go outside, but when I come home, I wash my food because I am trying to be so careful. COVID-19 is everywhere, so we don’t need to panic, we just need to wait and let it pass. 

What does a typical day look like for you now while you wait for college to begin?

For the most part, my days are going normally. Every morning I begin my day with exercise and then I help my mother with the household chores and cooking. After breakfast, I study for 2-3 hours with my sister, who is tutoring me when I need help. My online classes have not started yet. I love to sing so I am always listening to music and singing along. I am also staying connected with my friends. I think a lot about when and how things will be better.


Like Priyanka and many other college freshmen this fall, students in India are facing colossal challenges that sometimes feel out of their control. With the support of her sister and peers, she is learning to navigate a new environment and the confusion of the current circumstances. Your financial gift will give Priynaka the emotional lifeline she needs to stay motivated and focused on her educational goals.

You can make a difference by giving to our COVID fund right now.

monthly donation of $50 gives one of our Shadhika Scholars the opportunity to buy a personal computer and access computer literacy to pursue online learning.

single donation of $150 allows one of our Scholars to have a more stable wireless connection for a year to access her teachers and stay in touch with her peers for academic support.

$1,500 scholarship pledge sends a young woman to college for a year, alleviating the economic hardship that may have befallen her family and could stunt her educational goals.


This interview was originally conducted in Hindi. View the transcript here.

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