In our latest interview, we spoke to Parul, a Gen-Z advocate for women empowerment, menstrual equity, and entrepreneurship from Delhi, India.
Question One: Thank you for engaging with our organization, Parul! In reaching out to us, you’d said that women empowerment, menstrual equity, entrepreneurship, and artivism are subjects of your passion. Could you take us through each and explain why they are significant to you?
I strongly believe in enhancing the personality, capability and character of young girls in my country. I want to set a trajectory for young girls who often fall prey to developmental and societal barriers created by patriarchal mindset and society while achieving their dreams. Age-old practices and rituals still dictate gender bias dictate the lives of many Indian women today. For instance, the duties of the household and child-rearing are naturally allotted to women even if they work a full-time job. I believe the future is female and India can accomplish greater heights when young girls are empowered and guided.
During my undergraduate student journey and constantly going through gender bias, I founded We Believe India, an initiative working towards creating a mentorship program that strengthens the confidence of women, provides them with opportunity, and connects them to a sustainable network. Members here are trained on sustainable partnership building, community strengthening, curriculum implementation, trauma-informed responses, and classroom best practices. In addition to being classroom facilitators, We Believe members receive professional coaching, leadership training, internship and scholarship opportunities.
Through my other initiatives with Leading Women of Tomorrow, Girl Up Angeza, Girl Power Talk and The Period Society, I hosted fundraisers, menstrual hygiene education sessions to spark conversations about reproductive health, break taboos surrounding periods and involve GenZ to lead this movement to end the menstrual taboo and period poverty in India.
Question Two: “I am dedicated to creating opportunities and bringing awareness to foster a global platform to highlight the intercultural relations around the world.” Elaborate on this statement. What are you increasing awareness of and what sort of platform have you created to showcase your knowledge on said subjects?
I believe my purpose of life is to continually advance civilization by working towards creating a better and equal world with individuals advocating for their as well as each other's rights on a whole level!
I have learned to explore the differences from a place of understanding and now embrace other cultures. My deep curiosity allows me to connect with people meaningfully. As a leader, I value that diversity of thought and have learned to broaden my own perspectives in everything I do. I also believe that over time, virtue is its own reward. People recognize how you are investing in them, and they reciprocate.
The nation (India) that I am from is a multi diverse version of inter cultural faceted values, where the practice towards advocating rights, political advocacy for ending penury and destitution underpins the success of most humanitarian leaders such as feminism and economic growth in history. The rationale for being a feminist and arguments on how existing gender injustices, dynamics, and double standards harm us all, greatly resonated with me. Since then, the legacies of powerful and empowering women have had a great impact on me who can make things happen, change their lives, create a difference, speak for others, take risks, and overcome societal challenges .In most of the developing countries, particularly women the issues concerning us the most right now are global gender equality, climate change and world peace being shaken and poverty at its peak. Action creates a new future for me and all that I see and that space belongs to us.
Question Three: How do you engage in the phenomenon of “artivism”? Is there any particular medium you prefer using to spread awareness?
I have a knack for serving as an individual who unleashes network of art and activism to create a feminist space which opens up intercultural fostering relationship's between diverse individuals. For me art has been a tool for the mass embedment of intersectionality among various communities, and diverse into free flow of my creativity and thoughts. Illustration as a form of digital art has helped me grow in the new arena of artivism (displaying art + activism as a blend of social causes and creativity) .
I usually create my illustrations to shed light upon a community that uses art as a tool to empower young people to take action, breaks down barriers in the art and activism world by giving women and POC a voice. Art helped me to display a positive representation of the world through my lens.
Question Four: How else have you been channeling your passion for entrepreneurship? Have you joined or started any nonprofits?
In 2019, I started a local non-profit community organization along with my mother. PUKAR NGO, referring to awareness and support. I wanted to make a difference, a day when no one sleeps empty stomach and possess the right education to be independent. I felt that something needed to be done to improve the situation of the underprivileged Indian child. This “link” or enabling position has determined NGO's strategic choices at every juncture – from the fundraising methods it employs, to the nature of its relationship with the people it partners with. We can't eradicate poverty by charity but by education.
While on the other hand speaking about women entrepreneurship an increasing number of startups and new businesses have been founded in India over the last decade, the majority of them by men. While many Indian women have entrepreneurial ambitions, it is often more difficult for them to succeed. The causes of low female entrepreneurship rates, primary of which are unconscious biases, low confidence in business skills difficult access to finance and networks, a lack of family support and child-care options, as well as insufficient safety in work and public spaces. We are always instructed to have to balance between household work and business work. Even more so in the smaller cities, women are often shackled back due to their responsibilities towards their family. That is the reason I am motivated to break these shackles and empower more women realise their potential.
Question Five: How do you balance completing school-work and being an advocate? To reinstate, what are your ways of keeping organized?
As students, we are always told that we need to work hard to get where we want to go. I agree that’s important but during this time, I realized how important it is to also take a break. It’s easy to get burnt out. What keeps me motivated is my vision for a better future and my efforts in combating gender injustices and the legacies of powerful women of the past. No routine has ever stood the test of time for me. There is no typical day. I usually attend lectures, get involved in campaigns, work on my organization, apply for my masters, etc. I always allot time to relax, eat, and exercise though. I do have sticky notes in place so I can jot down notes or things that are top of mind to accomplish. I also use Google cal and alerts on my phone which help me stay on top of everything
Question Six: Do you have any advice for people who might be interested in following in your footsteps? Where should they start?
Start early. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or what my passions were so I started early and tested out different things. And, remind yourself that no one actually has it all together. People who are businesses owners or out at big, fancy cool jobs are not perfect. Social media makes it look like people are doing everything and more, but it’s not true. It can be distracting and put a pressure on yourself that you aren’t doing enough. Don’t let it get you down. There’s no timeline to find your passion so keep exploring until you find it.
Question Seven: Is there anything else you’d like to share? If not, I’d love to thank you for the enlightenment! Best of luck with everything going forward
Our Website , Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and the personal Slack group where young girls can join the conversation. There are many ways to be a part of We Believe India for mentorship as well. Feel free to connect with me personally as well: Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.