Tag: Charity

Nurturing a Future – Feminine Leadership

In 2011, when I planned to change sectors and move from being a Senior HR Advisor managinga large team at a thriving and booming IT company, to be the Manager HR at a relatively lesser known non-profit organisation at New Delhi, my well-wishers and peers advised me against the move.

“You will stagnate in a dirty slum or remote village – carrying the quintessential “jhola” and wearing “hawai chappal” said a well- meaning friend trying to dissuade me. Another one deplored the fact that my salary will fall below the “poverty line” and move south in comparison to my juniors, who will soon overtake me in the corporate rat-race and earn big bucks and fancy titles. Despite the advice, I persevered, convinced of my conviction to be part of the social development space and serve the community in my own small way.

What egged me on, were my daily encounters with the street kids on the way to the office – the despair one saw in their eyes…of myriad dreams that remained unfulfilled…the hopelessness of their situations and knowing fully well that I may not be able to change anything while sitting in my plush office in a global corporate.

Fast forward to today – 2022 – As the Director of Human Resource, organizational development and operations for Plan International India, I have the opportunity to be a part of the country management team, which sets the course for our deeply impactful programs that work at the grassroots across rural and urban communities, influence and change the lives of millions of young children especially girls in the most marginalized communities across India. The road was not smooth, in fact, it was riddled with potholes and speed breakers – challenges included raising funding, getting the best talent, and acquiring technology among others. The key motivation was the cause our organisation Plan India worked for – vulnerable children and young girls, and that helped me soldier on the chosen path and the fact that I could see my contributions were able to bring cheer and smiles to young lives.

“I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT IF YOU’RE IN A POSITION OF POWER, PRIVILEGE AND INFLUENCE, YOU CAN OPEN DOORS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN HISTORICALLY LEFT BEHIND, IN FACT YOU HAVE A MORAL RESPONSIBILITY TO DO THAT…”

 

Even in this day and age, the underprivileged still need men in power or more advantaged women, to vouch for their legitimacy to be at the table and not be dismissed or ignored just for being of a particular gender or lower caste, community or just being poor.

The times are changing rapidly and this is one urgent norm that needs to change soon. We need to shift the paradigm and create a more egalitarian society, where one can find a place at the table and rise to leadership rank purely based on merit and performance. To be able to access good education, health care and nutrition, live safely and develop one’s agency to take decisions of life and build a better future.

Plan International (India Chapter) has been championing this cause for past many years now. Our long-running advocacy on “Because I am a Girl” have set the tone and campaign on “Girls Get Equal” have brought many like-minded institutions, embassies, government organizations and corporate citizens together to power the popular Girls Takeovers on the occasion of “International Day of the Girl” celebrated on October 11th each year.

While the takeovers seem to be symbolic, of young girls entering public spaces and taking on positions of power associated with leadership for a day, like for instance – District magistrates, Chief Minister’s office, CEO’s of Corporates or Ambassadors of different countries – they shatter many barriers are social or psycho-social that prevent the girls from visualizing their roles outside those of a home-maker in their family or a mother and a wife. We now regularly hear stories of young women, who have after this experience, gone on to build a stronger future, they convinced their families to let them hold jobs or be entrepreneurs or build community self-help groups of like-minded youth and really thrive. They are the real change makers, who are the beacons and models for others around them, to see the change and be emulated.

“WHAT ONE NEEDS AS A LEADER IS OPTIMISM AND POWER TO DREAM OF A BETTER TOMORROW… TRUST IN SELF AND IN ONE’S TEAM CAN BRING OUT THEIR VERY BEST”


Today Anjali a young changemaker took over my role for a day.  It’s self-actualizing to see things coming full circle for me – contributing to the growth of girls as youth leaders, who are seizing opportunities to shape the conversations, as they should be and bring about a transformative change in the society we live in.

It is well-known that social empowerment is a slow and gradual process of change, but one that is slowly gaining ground and spreading beyond to influence others through the power of social media. Our girls are becoming champions of change – budding leaders who are confident and ready to take on the world.

The Power of ‘We’ for an equal world

Partnerships go a long way in driving meaningful digital engagement for non-profits during campaigns and make the cause relatable in a pandemic impacted world.

Digital has never been more important for charities than in 2020, as Covid-19 forced non-profits to embrace the “new normal” – in which digital enabled technologies and platforms play a major, long-term role in mobilising communities, campaigning and fundraising. And while doing so it is imperative that we need to re-invent, re-strategies and put our acts together in a real time bound manner.

As an organisation, Plan India is committed to the cause of promoting girls rights and equality. As a humanitarian organisation, while we were at the forefront of COVID-19 response, providing immediate relief and aid to more than a million population, we also set about executing an ambitious digital campaign #EqualUnlock mobilising partners and hundreds of girls from the most marginalised section of the society. Putting the spotlight on rights of girls and their agency is all the more important as often such issues slip through the cracks in the larger scheme of things. We should not let COVID upend decades of work around gender equality.

The campaign #EqualUnlock conceived as part of the International Day of the Girl which falls on 11 October, challenged stereotypes that hold them back or question their capabilities based on gender. The spirit of the campaign was: It is proven that girls have the potential to lead companies and countries through positions of power and be Unconquerable. They strive to fight their battles of freedom and be Unafraid. In a world that ties them with limiting stereotypes and unequal representation, they choose to be Unstoppable. In a post COVID world we should not let girls fight alone but be their voice because it’s time for an #EqualUnlock.

Each October since 2016, led by different Plan International offices, thousands of girls all over the world have taken over positions of power including those of Presidents, Ambassadors, CEOs and Chief Editors as part of a global movement in support of gender equality. Given the new normal created by COVID-19 physical takeovers was difficult but what could not be missed was the need to highlight the need for continued focus on girls’ rights and equality. Embracing the new normal, In India we tweaked the physical takeovers to social media takeovers and roped in partners such as diplomatic Missions, corporates, media and influencers—who espouse the cause of gender equality.

Therefore, Delegation of the European Union to India, Embassy of Argentina, Australian High Commission, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, High Commission of Canada in India, Embassy of the Czech Republic, Royal Danish Embassy, Embassy of Finland, Embassy of France, Embassy of Israel, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Latvia, Embassy of Lithuania, Embassy of Mexico, Embassy of Netherlands, Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia, Embassy of Sweden and the Embassy of Switzerland; the content platform The Better India – Hindi and English; and the corporates H&M joined the social media takeovers— all came forth to not only celebrate the Day of the Girl but also give up their individual social media handles as Ambassadors/CEOs or that of their organisation in solidarity.

The reach of the campaign was further strengthened with the support of globally acclaimed sportspersons such as Tashi and Nungshi Malik, Tania Sachdev and Ria Rajeshwari Kumari. As a result 20+ girls, some of them from the remotest communities in India, took the digital world by storm reaching 9 million people organically and raising one unified voice for girls’ rights and equality.

 It is evident that together we can make a far bigger impact than we could by acting alone. The big question is—do you see yourself as flagbearer for girls’ rights and equality? The road ahead can be lonely, challenging and long drawn but the outcome is a world where girls are finally seen as equals.

Written By

Pinky Pradhan, Director – Communications and Strategic Partnerships