Kolkata student activists focus on gender issues

Kolkata student activists focus on gender issues

Four teenagers studying in class XII of different city schools have come forward to address various issues that concern many elders in society. From creating sculptures and paintings to combat gender discrimination, starting a social organisation for women’s empowerment working for the welfare of children with cerebral palsy and disabilities and making a platform for career counselling, these young social activists are undertaking various welfare activities alongside their studies.

Maanya Kejriwal (16) of La Martiniere for Girls has chosen art forms like sculpture and painting to sensitise people, including her peers, about the need to ward off gender discrimination in society. She took a year to carve a seven-foot sculpture and teamed up with her friends to organise a public art show ‘Truly Unchained’ that questioned why boys and girls don’t get equal freedom in 21st-century society. “The exhibition had an overwhelming response as 200 city students supported the need for bringing an equitable world for both boys and girls. My sculpture focused on the fact that everyone, irrespective of any gender, has the right to pursue their passions and dreams,” said Maanya. She also generates awareness about gender equality through brushstrokes.

Modern High for Girls student Swaranya Sarkar grew up in a house where Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s were topics of daily conversations. Her grandmother was an Alzheimer’s patient which prompted her to work for others suffering from the same disease.“In my first endeavour as a social activist, I did research on the impact of COVID-19 on teenagers with cerebral palsy. Then I started mentoring them. I use storytelling as a therapy for children with cerebral palsy. I also reached out to the disabled children living in the Sundarbans,” she said.

Anvesha Saraf (17) founded the Sheable Foundation with the tagline ‘Empower HER’ in Sept 2020. Since then, the class XII student of Modern High School International has empowered around 12,000 women with a sense of hygienic menstruation. She has installed a sanitary pad manufacturing machine at Khanakul’s Pancharul village in Hooghly with the help of an NGO. Local women in the village manufacture the pads ‘Klinfeel’ that are distributed among girls in rural parts of the state.