“I’ve been fighting injustice against women even before I was born. When Ma was pregnant with me, their second daughter after Sanjoli, my neighbours and relatives tried to pressure my mom into aborting me. They said, ‘Daughters are a burden’ and ‘You should try for a son’. We’re from Haryana, a state infamous for mass female foeticide, but my parents turned a deaf ear. They knew their daughter would be no less than a son and I got a shot at life.
To show the world how proud they were of their daughters, they dedicated ‘Lohri’ to their daughters even though it was traditionally for sons. They even donated blankets to families with 2 daughters. They then began an NGO called ‘Saarthi’ to spread awareness about female foeticide.
Needless to say, my childhood was far from ordinary. While most kids played with toys, I got to be on the frontlines of campaigns, peaceful protests and marches for female justice. I watched Ma fiercely argue for gender justice while I sucked my thumb. My first words were those of respect and equality that I picked up while listening to my parents and sister talk about social causes.
So when I was 5, I knew my life’s purpose; to fight to change the world.
At just 6 years old, I began giving speeches against female foeticide and my family managed to save over 1000 females from being aborted– till date one of the girl’s grandparents thank us for talking sense into them!
I helped my sister produce a documentary to spread awareness about climate change across 6 states and 100 schools. We knew that to create real impact, we had to make changes at the grassroot level. So we also decided to adopt a village, plant 200 saplings there and set up a mobile school in the front yard of a Gurdwara. The village officials often barred us from entry, but we persisted and guess what? 121 students showed up on a Saturday!
When we asked why they gave up their weekends, a girl raised her hand and said, ‘Because I want to be as smart as the kids who get to go to school’. Within a week we had 139 students enrolled–their only ‘guru dakshina’ was recycling plastic!
Over time, that school became a large part of my heart and I’d spend every weekend with them, come what may. We taught young girls about managing their periods, reproductive health and to believe in themselves.
And all this would never have been possible if my parents hadn’t fought to give me life. They believed that one day I could change the world, and honestly, I will… and I won’t do it alone. Because if there’s one thing I know about women, it’s that together we’ll leave the world a much better place than we found it; all we need is a chance.”
Reproduced from Humans of Bombay.