Shadhika Shadhika

Meet Vanitha, Komal, and Priya, Scholars who have conducted their projects this year on the right to education, on child marriage, and on menstruation and taboos.

When She Leads: Shadhika Scholars’ Community Leadership Projects

By Vanita Ganesh, Digital Media Coordinator

October 20, 2022

Reading Time: 9 minutes

This interview is part of our When She Leads series. Learn more.

UNICEF’s call to action for this year’s International Day of the Girl includes “greater attention, investment and action on letting girls lead by putting girls in the forefront of change efforts, hearing their voices, responding to their asks, and welcoming them in decision-making spaces,” among others. Time and again, Shadhika Scholars and Alum have embodied Shadhika’s core value- The transformative power of an individual girl. From challenges to accessing education or menstrual hygiene, and the right to creating and accessing one’s own documents to the COVID-19 pandemic and its fallout, we have seen the Scholars and Alum rise up to the occasion and lead their community.

Shadhika Scholars conduct their own Community Leadership Project to address unique needs in their respective community. Through these projects, the Scholars get to practice their leadership skills in real-life situations and create real change.

Meet some Shadhika Scholars working on their Community Leadership Projects (CLP).

Stay tuned to meet the full cohort soon!

Meet Vanitha, Komal, and Priya, Scholars who have conducted their projects this year on the right to education, on child marriage, and on menstruation and taboos.

Could you introduce yourself to Shadhika Supporters?

Vanitha: Hi, My name is Vanitha. I live in Bangalore and work with a travel company. In the evening, I go to college and am pursuing a B.Com (Bachelor of Commerce) degree. I like to read, go on walks, and I like being active on social media. I am a Shadhika Scholar with Baale Mane, a Shadhika partner site in Karnataka.

Komal: My Name is Komal and currently I am in my Second year of a Bachelors of Commerce degree. I like to travel, eat street food, listen to songs and wear new clothes. I am a Shadhika Scholar with Sahiyar, a Shadhika partner site in Gujarat.

Priya: My name is Priya and I am from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. I am a second-year B.Com student and I like to listen to music and write. I want to complete my studies and get a job. I am a Shadhika Scholar with Milaan Foundation, a Shadhika partner site in Uttar Pradesh.

What made you choose your topic for your community leadership project?

Vanitha: My topic is on the Right to Education. I chose this topic because education is the first fundamental right for everyone to have. It helps people move from darkness into light. It’s the first basic need to have in everyone’s life and it empowers one in one life and empowers our society. Still, there are so many youth who want to go to school or college but are not able to because of some uncertain situations in their life. Because of family issues or financial problems, they are not able to pursue their education. I wanted to raise awareness among girls and boys to continue their education, and I would like to guide them on this. I try to help them out however necessary, like giving them moral support, motivating them, and encouraging them. When they will be well educated, there would be no need to depend on anybody and they can lead a life on their own.

Komal: My topic is on Child Marriage and its end, and I am working with my community through street plays. Today we are moving forward in many areas yet we can see child marriage happening in some places. Even after knowing what is right and wrong, this kind of violence still happens. It is really important to understand why this is wrong and take action.

Priya: My topic is on menstruation. I have chosen this topic because I want to end conservative thinking around menstruation in our country. It might look like a small step for many but if someone would get motivated by me and adopts this thinking in their life or if anyone practices this thinking in their area, then it will be a big change for me.

What are the top 2 challenges you will have faced in this project?

Vanitha: Scheduling a time to visit has been a challenge. Also, when we haven’t been able to meet their requirements, irrespective of money, resources, or, knowledge, this is something I have been working on.

Komal: Firstly, of all the people we would invite to watch this play, many came but many also refused thinking it is useless. Now people will join to watch the play and some people understand the message we want to provide but some people will talk about it unnecessarily and in a negative way.

Priya: Some challenges I am facing include talking to the Principal of the school and getting their permission to hold workshops, which has been difficult. Also, my exams are being conducted right now which makes the timing of my project a problem.

What kind of impact would you like to see after completing your project?

Vanitha: I would like to see an improvement in education of my community and see them standing strong by themselves. I would like to see their courage in standing up for themselves and for the right cause.

Komal: I want that my message reaches 500-600 people, and more if possible, across the three places I plan on holding my street plays in. I want that where I reside, and elsewhere where my plays would be conducted, many people and many kinds of people come to watch it and understand the message. I also really hope it reaches the girls who are affected by violence like child marriage. I want that people not only understand the message but also spread this awareness and make others around them understand what child marriage does to girls and to society. I want to see a changed and an equal society because girls, due to child marriage, have not been able complete their education.

Priya: I want that whatever I do, whether it is to end stereotypes or adopt the right thinking, people should be motivated and adopt that learning in their life. There will be the no bigger meaning and motivation for me than this.

Shadhika Scholar Urmila from partner site in Uttar Pradesh, Milaan Foundation, conducting a session on the Right to Education.

What is something new you’ve learned about yourself during this project?

Vanitha: Through the CLP, I learned how to work on budgets and how to work in a team. I have never done something like this before, how to follow up with students or people whom we help or support. Through this 4-month leadership project I hope I will learn more about what has to be done or exactly what support girls need education-wise or information knowledge-wise.

Komal: Firstly, even after seeing and working on these things, it’s difficult to understand how to fight for these issues, or how to resolve them. But thanks to Sahiyar and Shadhika, I got the right understanding, and the proper guidance on these issues, and today I am going to take up leadership roles myself and put these issues in front of everyone. It’s going to bring within me a new change and a huge change to society.

Priya: I’ve experienced some new thoughts and new things because I’ve been learning what all orthodox thoughts have been going on in a house and other things in other houses and the biggest things is all these happenings is wrong and all these information I got to know via a video and it has been quite motivating.

Why do you think more girls in leadership is important? What do you think is keeping more girls away from becoming leaders?

Vanitha: Girl-led leadership is really important, because a well-educated girl, a courageous girl who knows how important education is can better leads others to do the same. Education is not only about scoring good marks but it’s also about being able to stand up for others. It is good to read and write but one should be able to empower themselves and others. She should be a role model to others even though some parents or the community might not allow them to do this kind of work for the society. It’s absolutely ok if she scores good marks and brings a ‘good name’ to the family, they need to understand that at the same time she can help some children understand the importance of education, can help them with studies in the subject she is good at. She, and anyone, can really be capable of doing and contributing in many little ways to our society.

Komal: We should include more girls in leadership positions so they will get the direction, a better understanding, and the motivation. This will help them create awareness and save those girls who are affected by child marriages and make a better future for them.

Priya: Girls and women should become leaders. I have seen girls motivate people and be good leaders in their own ways. I also think more girls should be in leadership positions because that will help them understand the community better and become more mature, and that maturity will then help society and our country understand and change for the better.

 Who inspires you to be a leader

Vanitha: Swami Vivekanand, Indira Gandhi, Malala Yousafzai.

Komal: Sahiyar, Shadhika, and my own confidence to become a leader which motivates me a lot to move forward.

Priya: Milaan Foundation, because I have done a leadership program as a girl icon through Milan since school.

Watch the Shadhika-led #LeadLikeAGirl chat to celebrate International Day of the Girl 2022. Tune in to learn what pressing issues girl leaders of today are working on, the challenges they face, and how #ShadhikaScholars have demonstrated what it means to be a leader during times of crisis.

Read more