“The sessions on self and identity helped me introspect and become considerate of how others were feeling. I remember leaving the sessions questioning all that I knew about myself and others.”
— Gargi, Youth-n-Democracy Fellow, 2019-20
Gargi felt that she lacked exposure to ideas of politics, feminism and philosophy in her young age. Going to college allowed her a new-found freedom and introduced her to these ideas. In college, she was immediately drawn to journalism, her interest stemming from a news piece from 2004 that exposed corruption. She also started thinking about the concern of the freedom of press, leading her to choose a minor in political science.
She felt that investigative journalism would be her way to uncover stories and make them more accessible. So, when she heard about the Youth-n-Democracy fellowship in 2019, she was immediately drawn to it. She thought that it would help her better understand the social issues she wanted to report on, allow her to explore these interests further, and get a glimpse of the social work and development sector. Now, nine months on, she is working towards promoting ideas of women’s rights and education.
During her fellowship, the idea of self and identity really stuck with Gargi, and she started her journey of questioning and learning about how she interacts with society, how she could better understand others and put forward her most authentic self. She felt that through the fellowship, she has gained a unique insight into democracy in everyday life. She says, “I learned about democracy in everyday life through the fellowship’s functioning. An open platform for discussion, facilitators and programme leaders being very accessible, and the willingness on everyone’s part to indulge in discussion — all these exemplified democratic functioning.”
Stemming from her prior interest in gender and feminism, Gargi chose to work alongside women living in a slum in Delhi for her social action project, promoting family planning and sexual education. She chose this target group as she noticed that the resources available for low-income families were minimal. Her desire to facilitate her learnings on this subject for this community of women aimed at ensuring autonomy and democracy in small ways in their lives.
However, due to the pandemic, Gargi was compelled to alter her plans and decided to make an Instagram page to continue advocating for these issues and spark conversations on gender equality at homes. On this social platform, she writes researched posts on gender equality and the stigmas attached to it, and encourages people to share their stories and take ownership of their narratives.
The Youth-n-Democracy fellowship has provided Gargi with the tools and confidence to put her ideas out in front of a larger audience, and explore ways in which she can make an impact in the gender space, even if just at the individual level. She hopes to go on to work as a legislative assistant to a Member of Parliament with the hope that she can get a foot in the door to make a larger impact. She credits the fellowship for giving her the opportunity to create long-lasting friendships and help her become more opinionated, confident and ready to face the world.