National Youth Day 2024 – Meet four young women leaders spearheading change and empowering lives

National Youth Day 2024

Prachi Mishra, Annu Kumari, Prajakta Koli, and Kaushalya Dawar are among the growing list of women leaders who ardently advocate for women’s rights and climate action

National Youth Day serves as a poignant reminder of the power of youth activism and the significance of young people committed to making a difference and shaping our future.  We spotlight four remarkable women leaders who, through their commitment to positive change, and relentless dedication are inspiring and empowering others.

Prachi Mishra

Prachi Mishra, a 22-year-old Nguvu Change Leader from Odisha, India, leads the #FreeBusForWomen online campaign, aiming to empower women from lower economic backgrounds. She resolutely works to facilitate universal access to fundamental mobility, healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. Prachi believes that while the government has attempted to make education and healthcare more affordable, they remain inaccessible to many girls and women due to financial constraints and restricted means of commuting. The lack of mobility traps them in a vicious cycle of poverty, making it difficult for them to break free. In her online petition, she has urged Naveen Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha, and Tukuni Sahu, Minister of the Commerce and Transport Department, to provide free passes for women in government buses and to expand government bus services to more districts. Currently, the services cover only four cities, and Prachi firmly believes that her campaign will help ensure equitable access to mobility.

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Annu Kumari

Hailing from Amawan in the Rajauli subdivision of Nawada district, Bihar, Annu Kumari was expected to marry at 20, but overcame societal expectations, diligently working her way to becoming a police constable at the Bihar Police Training Academy, located 300 km away from her village. It all began with her involvement in the Kishori Samooh programme run by the Population Foundation of India, which trains girls in period management, nutrition, and health. Annu went on to become an advocate against early marriage, successfully preventing such unions in her village by alerting local authorities. Taking her mentor Sheela Devi’s advice, Annu prioritized education over marriage. This decision not only led to a career in the police department but also turned her into a valuable member of the Kishori Samooh, a youth platform dedicated to empowering young women facing similar challenges.

Prajakta Koli

Prajakta Koli, an actor, YouTuber, and social media personality, represented India as the sole content creator invited by Google to speak at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023. Serving as the UNDP India Youth Climate Champion, she actively engaged in panel discussions, advocating for awareness on climate change, global warming, and biodiversity loss. Koli emphasized the disproportionate impact of environmental changes on marginalized communities and underscored the importance of collective action, sharing inspiring anecdotes of governmental, communal, and individual efforts making tangible differences.

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Kaushalya Dawar

A 26-year-old youth entrepreneur from Bijasan village in Barwani Block, Barwani, Kaushalya Dawar is an inspiration to her community. Kaushalya has overcome challenges such as a small profit margin from her boutique shop and limited educational opportunities. Thanks to Transform Rural India (TRI)  which strives to provide underserved Indians like her with equal opportunities and synergises with multiple stakeholders to break the cycle of rural poverty,   she connected with Reena, a youth fellow. Reena recognized Kaushalya’s potential and encouraged her to enroll in the Accelerated Entrepreneurship Development Program (AEDP). Here she expanded her business knowledge via gender-integrated AEDP training. With the support of Reena, she registered her business, enhanced her signage, and enabled digital payments. Securing a Mudra Scheme loan facilitated by the Canara Bank, Kaushalya’s enterprise has thrived, offering employment and basic beauty services. Looking ahead, she aims to provide more job opportunities and invest in her child’s education for a brighter future.