Shadhika Shadhika

It is my turn now, my opportunity.

When She Leads: Shaista

September 22, 2023

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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

Shaista is a Shadhika Scholar from our Partner Site Milaan in Uttar Pradesh. She was interviewed by Communications Manager Urmila Reghunath.

My name is Shaista. I am from Milaan Foundation and live in the Mau District of Uttar Pradesh.

What has been your experience/journey to attain your education? 

Before I received the scholarship I faced many challenges to pursue education. My family used to tell me that I could not continue my studies. This was the context in my home at the time I received my scholarship. After I was selected for the scholarship program I told them how important education is for a girl. Since I was a participant at Milaan’s program this was already very clear for me.

My family now supports me and my studies have gone very well. Due to the scholarship, I received even more support from my family.

I have now completed the final exams for my B.A. Second Year and am due to go to my Third Year of the course. My college life and my studies are going really well. I participate actively in the activities at my college. The results [of academic performance] have also improved since the beginning of my course. I received 85% in my 1st semester, 87% in my 2nd semester, and in my 3rd semester too I am expecting a result above 80%.

What kind of activities do you enjoy participating in at your college?

I participate in college functions, for instance, ‘Hindi Day’ and so on. I also anchor for events and join athletics events such as 100m, and 200m races. In fact, I emerged 1st in the races. I also made a model on Health and Hygiene for the exhibition at my college. My project was selected for the First Prize within the Home Science Department.

Could you tell us a bit about the Mau Award you received?

In 2020, for the International Day of the Girl, I gave a speech on the topic at an event and received an award from the organizers of the function for the same.

What are your plans for the future?

I am actually feeling some confusion right now. You know how we keep having dreams of how our life will progress? Right now my plans are to pursue an MSW to grow my career in social work. Another option I am considering is teaching.

What thematic area/topic are you interested in working on?

Since my participation with Milaan, I have interacted closely with my community, talked to them, and tried to understand their problems. When I talk to them, the girls, or their families, I feel that they understand me as well. This makes me confident in my skills to speak to people, to raise awareness/understanding on issues with them. This is a reason why I want to pursue social work so that if people listen to me, I can try to support their growth. In my community some girls were not studying, their families were not supporting them, or were facing financial difficulties. I went to their houses multiple times, made them understand about studies and education, and now one of them is studying with me in college. She is my friend.

Shaista participating in a session at the 2023 Leaders for Change Summit in Lucknow.

You are a leader in your community, and you are surrounded by a collective of girl leaders. How do you feel?

Outstanding. I can’t express it in words. It is a big achievement for me, even more than any prize or award, to feel that someone is moving ahead in life due to some action of mine. Because that individual has understood me. The people in my community know that I work for girl leadership, and they feel that they can come to me for solutions. When I was a Girl Icon at Milaan, my peer group members – 20-25 girls – used to come to me with their problems regarding the challenges they faced. I used to talk to them, go to them and their families to try to resolve it. It makes me happy to speak to all of them and to try and raise awareness.

What does Ab Humari Baari mean to you?

Sometimes we feel lost. We don’t know what we are doing. This theme of Ab Humari Baari makes me feel that yes it is OUR time now. That we have to act NOW. If somebody stops us, or restricts us, denies us the freedom to do something like education, traveling, mobility, etc.… You know how people restrict girls’ movements because of our gender. Now I feel like our time IS now. We need to tell them that. It is my turn now, my opportunity. We get such chances only once and we shouldn’t let them go. We should seize the day: Ab Humari Baari Hai (Our time is now)!

Join us in this movement for gender justice, alongside our partners working with the most underserved communities in India. You can invest in the power of the individual girl, and support grassroots leadership in India today!

Read more