In Interview with Bhumija Rishi

Ridhi Kaul: My Association with Girl Up- A UN Initiative

This is a part of our series ‘In Interview with Bhumija Rishi’ where she speaks to enthusiastic and passionate young people excelling in academic as well as non-academic spaces.

Ridhi Kaul is a final year B.Com (Honors) student at Shri Ram College for Commerce (SRCC). A dynamic student throughout her academic career; she is also passionate about social causes and is especially intrigued by the gendered nature of social issues. Here she recounts her journey as the Vice–President of the Delhi University Chapter of Girl Up (a UN initiative). She highlights how this position of responsibility can pragmatically help her in prospective of college placements and how it aligns with her long term career goals. She has also been an active member of the Debating and MUN circuits of Delhi University. She has learnt that public speaking and written communication are much needed for working successfully in social projects.

Ridhi Kaul. Image provided by Bhumija Rishi

Hi Ridhi! I know you as a very hardworking, punctual and dedicated student. However, in your college years, you have increasingly been associated with activities dealing with social issues. One of them of course being Girl Up (a UN initiative). Tell me more about it.

Girl Up Wings is the United Nations Foundation Initiative that aims at empowerment of women and girls around the world because we believe that when girls rise we all rise. We as a team take up on ground projects after thorough research of our target or potential communities and try to create awareness about varied topics ranging from menstrual hygiene to financial literacy. I was the project coordinator of the ‘Mentorship Project’ that was joined by University students from across Delhi NCR that emphasized on the need for mental health awareness and decoding the avenues of career development and enhancement. With the commencement of the new session, we aim at bringing more topics to the forefront and address issues that are prevalent in society.

How did you learn of this opportunity?

I got to know about this opportunity via LinkedIn, where our ex-president had released the volunteership forms for the session 2019-2020.  Initially I thought I will work in the project only in the capacity of a volunteer but as months kept passing , I became more and more emotionally connected to the gendered nature of social issues. I realized that if given a chance , I would love to work in Girl Up in a leadership position. I fought the elections and initially bore the office of the Treasurer and later the Vice- President.

Which campaign that you did as a part of Girl Up team enjoy the most?

Girl Up Wings provides avenues for constant learning and deliberation. But the one project I enjoyed the most was the Financial Literacy project because it was centric towards my ambit of financial management. But as we sat down to deliberate and understand about the target communities we realized about the varied underlying problems that women in our society suffer from. From meetings in central park to deciding module lessons and practicing before sessions with women who worked as house help we came a long way as a team together. Although we couldn’t fully roll out the subsequent phases of the project but we are trying our level best to use the privilege we have been given to help those in need.

How did you get selected as a treasurer? What did they see in you? Give me a brief over view of the entire process.

The process can be divided into 3 phases basically- firstly our forms which had our visions for the society and campaign idea with a plan of actions were carefully scrutinized. If we clear that round we had a panel interview which was a gruelling session of 60 minutes whereby we had to explain our projects and plan of actions and prove its viability and on-ground visibility. Following this, the other round was a collaborative team round where the top 10 selected people were put into teams and we, in turn, had to take interviews of external candidates. I believe my prior experience as a treasurer for the Youth Parliament- the MUN society of SRCC gave me an edge considering I was familiar with the work profile and performed well in the plan of action round. But in Girl Up they give points for the overall work done by an individual in different projects all the year-round.

You would be sitting in college placements soon. Do you think your exposure with Girl Up would give you an edge over other students, especially in terms of leadership?

Girl Up definitely helps us in attaining a punctilious and professional attitude. Besides this, it provides avenues to grow as an individual as a part of the team and work for society as well. I feel it is a great opportunity to learn and by far sitting in placements is a different experience for everyone. Each individual has a diversified skill set and even if Girlup doesn’t provide me with an edge I consider myself fortunate to be able to give back to the society. As I’m keenly interested in sustainable entrepreneurship Girl Up will definitely help me understand and land opportunities in the CSR sectors of the corporate industry.

What is your biggest take-away from this experience?

Biggest takeaway would be never shy away from expressing your thoughts because some of those thoughts have the power to change the lives of others. Words have the power to hurt and heal. When I am using my free speech its highly probable that I am heeling someone’s suffering. I considered this very idealistic earlier but then I realized that as I am expressing my thoughts more freely in a verbal manner, I am thinking things I never thought before. This articulation is helping me become a better communicator. This is one of the most wonderful learning experiences of my life.

What is your advice to students who would like to get associated with such initiatives? What should they expect from the organization and vice-versa?

I always advise my juniors to join initiatives that they are passionate about and that can make a positive impact in the communities. But as we go ahead it is important to understand that your values should reconcile with those of the organizations’, and then only can your experience be truly fruitful. Make sure you are not compromising with your academic commitments. Focus on one thing at a time.

Tell me something about the future projects of Girl Up.

Considering the pandemic we have shifted all our activities to an online format. We intend on taking up topics that are usually not openly spoken about in our society but need our utmost attention. We are trying to get lawyers and other professionals to provide us with new perspectives of such issues and the various bottlenecks in the judicial system. These themes include menstrual hygiene, postnatal depression and identification of sexual misconduct at home and workplace.

This sounds great. Thanks for talking to me Ridhi. These are indeed very articulate thoughts. I wish you all the luck for the future!

Thanks for having me here, Bhumija.

  • Views expressed are purely personal to the interviewee. Neither the interviewer nor Manmarziyaan endorses them in any manner.

Manmarziyaan is looking to amplify the works of young people enthusiastic about their fields and interests. Connect with us on editors.manmarziyaan.com to be a part of this series as an interviewee.

Featured image designed by Haya Wakil

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