Very often we hear powerful speeches or lectures on women empowerment but precious little is actually done to emancipate them. Most of the time, those lofty ideas remain on the paper only—however, in the Hiranandani Foundation School, Powai it is the contrary. Under the Avanti Young Women Leadership Programme started by Ashank Desai, in the memory of Avanti Desai, an alumnus of the school, we help our girls come out of their cocoons in which they have been enveloped by the society for generations. This six month long program helps train, nurture and equip the young girls to be the leaders of tomorrow.
For the girls of Std VIII, the leadership program has triggered a holistic growth encompassing various qualities required of good leaders like goal setting, confidence, empathy, compassion, dedication and the resolve to do things differently for the betterment of the society. The girls were divided into eleven groups, each working upon social issues that plague the society and which needed to be addressed or highlighted. Some of the topics picked were ‘body shaming’, ‘sexual harassment of women in the unorganised sector’, ‘child abuse’, ‘women’s safety’, ‘health & hygiene’, ‘self-defence for girls’ and ‘problems of adolescents’ etc.
The leadership program culminated with the Award ceremony which was held on the 8th of November to coincide with the birth anniversary of Avanti. It began with the customary lighting of the lamp by Ms. Sandhya, Mr Ashank Desai & Mrs Kalyani Patnaik, Principal of the school. The short cultural program included the leadership anthem and a dance drama on women empowerment. The school believes that awareness and empowerment comes when they interact with real life role models, listen to stories of women who have overcome societal hindrance and have risen above the mundane.
Ms. Sandhya, a notable woman achiever was the chief guest who engaged the girls with her inspiring words. The group ‘Seven Hearts and One Motive’ won the trophy for the best presentation.
The take back message was loud and clear:
‘Do not wait on a leader……
Look in the mirror, it’s you’.