Young, and restless, to bring lasting change

Cross-posted from UN Women

Sanchaita Raju

It all started with a visit to a rural Indian village. Sanchaita Gajapati Raju draws inspiration from her mother, who from a very young age instilled in her a deep civic sense and encouraged her to help those less fortunate. On a visit to an impoverished village, Sanchaita noted the lack of facilities and clean drinking water. Through her interactions with the communities there, she got a better understanding of their predicament and how technology could improve peoples’ lives by not only enhancing public health, but also through creating services that would allow people, primarily women, to spend less time collecting fresh water. Thus her organization SANA was born.

Sanchaita Gajapati Raju is only 30 years of age, but can already claim numerous accomplishments – she is a trained lawyer and political scientist, filmmaker and media professional. Despite the various accolades she earned in these competitive fields, she chose to leave a corporate job and establish an NGO focused on water and sanitation in a country where close to 60 per cent of the over one billion people in the country are forced to defecate in public due to lack of much-needed sanitation facilities.[1Read More »

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For Nigerian girls, education is the key that opens doors to progress

Cross-posted from UN Women

Raised in Nigeria, Nnenna Agba gained nationwide popularity when she went on the widely watched television show America’s Next Top Model. With hard-won scholarships, she graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry; she also holds a Master’s of Science degree in Urban Affairs. Nnenna is supporting the education of her four sisters in Nigeria, and is the face of Kechie’s Project, a NGO that provides scholarships to girls from Nigerian schools.

Almost immediately, the importance of education took on a different meaning in my life and in the lives of my four sisters. I went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and a Master’s of Science in Urban Affairs.  Read More »

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The fearless seafarer

Cross-posted from UN Women

Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman

She was brought up by a single mother in rural Jamaica, in a family of modest means. Today she is the Commanding Officer of Jamaica’s Coast Guard, the first woman to attain the prestigious position in the island state, as well as the entire Caribbean region. Commander Antonette Wemyss-Gorman learnt early in life never to accept ‘no’ for an answer. Her mantra: “I can do that!”

“My grandparents and my mother made me believe I could be anything I wanted to be. When I was growing up, I felt I was the centre of the world because of the inspiration I got. I was socialized to think that I could do whatever I wanted to do, and that is how I have grown up and approached everything,” she says.  Read More »

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Alex The Lion’s Guide to Positive Parenting

My brother’s just got his PhD in animated film which involved a lot of watching and re-watching pixar animation movies. I’m very proud of him, but little did I think that my two year old son would be following in his uncle’s footsteps at such a young age. So it has come to pass that in the last 2 weeks he gets me up every morning with his empty bottle at 5am to demand Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (and more milk). My son. Not his uncle.

Muuummyyyyy wake up. Can Ah watch Alex the Lion?

Don’t judge me for putting on telly. It’s 5 o’clock in the bloody morning.

I have watched this film through squinting eyes, in fragmented pieces and become oddly addicted to the soundtrack by Will.I.Am (or rather one particular song, in one particular scene, which brings tears to my eyes. Probably because I’m so tired).

As my son correctly identifies, the film is about Alex the Lion who is reunited with his parents in Africa when their plane crashes in the savannah where he was poached as a small cub. Overjoyed at first to be reunited with his son, his father becomes increasingly disappointed and angry as it becomes apparent that Alex, having grown up in the Big Apple, does not know what it is to be a ‘real lion’.

He cannot fight. He can only dance.

In our increasingly complex debate about what gender equality is, and is not, it’s an obvious parallel that the Alex who cannot fight, but can dance is not only a real lion, but also is not a real ‘man’. He is rejected from his pride and by his father for who he is because ‘Lions don’t dance’.  Read More »

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The New York Diaries: My Journey

Ann’s post, She Should Write, in part encouraged me to pursue my dream of living in New York and becoming a writer.

A little over a year ago, I made the move. I packed my car and transferred my job to New York, but things didn’t go as planned. I found myself months later without a place to live, no access to my car, no money and in a city full a strangers.

I had to rely on the kindness of friends that I had made here for food and a place to live. Things got rough, and I was super homesick for the place where everyone knew me.

Things have vastly improved now, and I am posting about my experiences on my blog, from the time I arrived, to when I resorted to dancing at bars for cash, to now: working two jobs and writing every chance I can.  Read More »

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