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Lady Bosses Who Inspire Us Every Day

When you see a glass ceiling, make sure you jump high enough to smash right through it. That is exactly what we've been taught by these amazing women who are successfully leading their organizations that are doing wonderful work in various fields. The impact they have created across domains such as health, agriculture, and sustainability amongst others is immense!


Raka Singh, Founder, Urja Energy


Mrs. Raka Singh founded URJA-Energy in December 2013. Raised and brought up in India she channels her efforts largely towards the betterment of the people of her ancestral hometown Siswa Bazaar in the district of Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh, India. On land donated by her family, the NGO is essentially run by a team of locally-based, like-minded people.


After understanding the needs of the residents of the area, they decided to focus their intervention on a sewing school and production unit, production of biodegradable sanitary pads, investments in libraries, playgrounds, and scholarships, deployment of solar cells for energy production, and production of indigenous varieties of rice among other areas.


Their prime focus lies in the field of community development through women empowerment, while showing the way for environmentally friendly solutions to daily practices. Recently, they opened a training center for conducting sewing, stitching, and overall training of women entrepreneurs. They used the services of USHA International so that their students could get nationally recognized training certificates.


Raka is someone who always stays true to her word and who will get the job done no matter what the situation. Her passion for her work is unparalleled, which is the reason Urja has been able to create such an impact for so many.


 

Richa Malik, Founder, The Happy Turtle


Richa Malik started The Happy Turtle in October 2017. Richa started the company after the stark realization that clean-up drives may not be enough to clean up the oceans and our planet of plastic pollution. She is an MBA Graduate from XLRI with 8 years of corporate experience with giants like P&G and Unilever but she quit the corporate world for a life of adventure and pursued her passion for scuba diving by becoming a diving instructor in Indonesia. This is where she came face-to-face with the plastic that people consider “thrown away”. Volunteering for beach and dive clean-ups to remove plastic from the oceans was a regular activity for her but seeing a turtle mistake a plastic bag for its jellyfish lunch on one of her dives hit the point home. She managed to prevent the turtle from eating the bag but realized that clean-ups may not be enough and plastic consumption needs to reduce drastically if our planet and its inhabitants are to survive and flourish without being stifled by plastic pollution. As more time went by, she frequently came across plastic packaging underwater (some even from brands that she had worked on in the past during her corporate career), and that only fuelled her intent.

She then came back to India and started The Happy Turtle to address plastic pollution from the lens of plastic consumption and to turn off the tap on wasteful plastic consumption.


With an intent to alter consumer behavior towards sustainable consumption, both the products and service offerings of The Happy Turtle focus on nudging the consumer towards a habit of reuse and/or away from plastic consumption.


The products are made in a Plastic-Free Supply Chain by rural artisans and women from SHGs. All the products are reusable, made with a focus on minimizing carbon footprint, use natural treatments as much as possible, and cause minimal wastage in the production process. THT is also one of the first companies in India to have a plastic-free shipping policy and was the first company to use zero plastic in all their shipping - including tape! They are also the pioneers in End-to-End Plastic Reduction Consulting. This model helps them certify businesses on their Plastic Footprints, minimize their plastic consumption and also help them become Zero Waste to Landfill in a cost-effective manner. They further help businesses switch to sustainable alternatives to plastic depending on their requirements.


Richa's efficiency, keen business acumen, and eye for detail have propelled The Happy Turtle to amazing heights. She has helped reduce plastic consumption across the country, playing her part in helping save the earth.


 

Charty Dugdale, Founder, Artreach India


Charty started Artreach after seeing the impact a simple art engagement could have on the lives of homeless children in the New Delhi station. She was also inspired by her work with Triangle Arts Trust and Youthreach, for whom she co-edited 'If I were rain,' an acclaimed hardback book about the lives of street and slum children. Now based in the UK after 14 years in Delhi, Charty remains involved in Artreach operations, visiting India often. She is hugely proud of the team and inspired by what they make happen.


The following is a short note by Charty herself:

"While great strides forward have been made through the 20th Century and into the 21st towards gender equality - women and men, girls and boys, enjoying equal rights, resources, opportunities, protections - there’s still so far to go!!

Even in the most ‘progressive' societies, women do more domestic and childcare work than men, they get paid less for doing the same jobs, they are underrepresented in national parliaments and in senior posts in almost every field.


When it comes to India, as we know, the problems are deep and entrenched, all the way from conception: girl fetuses are more likely to be aborted, girl children are more likely to be malnourished, they are more likely not to go to school, to leave school early, to marry before they are adults.


At Artreach we have worked with many girls and women through the years. We work with a gender lens, which is as important for the boys as the girls - they need to understand the biases and inequalities of the world and become partners in changing them. We find imagination and self-expression to be very powerful tools: if you can begin to imagine and express yourself as having the same rights as boys, that is empowering, if you can begin to imagine what a more equal society might look light that is the first step towards building it.

My great International Women’s Day heroine is Sudha Varghese, who established the organization Nari Gunjan in Bihar in 1987. For more than 30 years she has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of women of the Musahar Dalit community. She established Prerna, a boarding school in Patna, where, away from the drudgery of farm work and domestic labor and the ever-present risk of sexual assault and likelihood of early marriage, Musahar Dalit girls are educated in the school curriculum and in sport, dance, karate, music, and art. They are taught about the rights they are promised in India’s constitution - and how to fight for them.


The Nari Gunjan girls are talented artists and you can buy their handmade tie-dye dupattas on Punya!


Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day - but with the knowledge that we have so much more to do to create a more equal world for all women."


Charty's compassion for underprivileged children coupled with her will to create an impact has helped nurture many children using art who otherwise would have no creative outlet. Hers is truly a unique form of social work and activism, one which we all are extremely proud to see flourish.


 

Suhani Jalota, Founder, Myna Mahila Foundation


Suhani Jalota is the Founder and CEO of Myna Mahila Foundation, a globally recognized organization working on women’s health in slum communities in India. She has impacted 550,000 women in the last 5 years by providing them menstrual health access and education, through her work with Myna Mahila and is now on a mission to reach 2 Million women across India by 2025 and empowering them through healthcare access, education, and employment opportunities.


She is currently a Knight Hennessy Scholar pursuing her MBA and Ph.D. in Health Policy and Economics at Stanford University. For the last eight years, Suhani has been working in urban slum areas and rural communities on projects ranging from adolescent girl health, water, and sanitation, to social protection policies in South Africa, Thailand, and several cities in India. She was involved in sanitation evaluation projects with IDinsight, UNICEF, and the Department of Education in the Philippines. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Global Health from Duke University. She is a Forbes Asia under 30 recipient 2018, Asia 21 Leader 2019, Young Achievers Mother Teresa Memorial Awardee 2018, a Queen’s Young Leader 2017, and a top 3 Nominee for the Global Citizen Prize 2020: Cisco Youth Leadership Award.

Myna Mahila Foundation is also one of the seven charities chosen to benefit from donations marking the wedding of Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle in 2018.


To support her work in empowering girls and women across India and beyond, visit https://mynamahila.com/get-involved or shop their products with Punya!



 

Rachita Arora, Founder, Granmade