In Haryana, often girls grow up in negative environments, learn difficult life lessons and go through society’s destructive self-talk. Eventually they start buying into the notion that not very much is possible and that they should settle and lower their expectations. Haryana is a land of paradoxes. On one hand, women are encouraged to play rough contact sports like wrestling, boxing and judo, but on the other hand, they are discouraged from employment and encouraged to get married.
It is not everyday that one sees girls training to become gender advocates, work towards championing the rights of women and girls, policy change at the workplace, and advancing awareness on social issues. But Parul Yadav from a small village called Chakkarpur in Haryana is breaking shackles and leading the narrative with her community organisation called, We Believe India.
In the village that Parul comes from, women voicing their opinions was a taboo. The male-dominated society had confined women’s role to getting married and looking after the family. Her close relatives and few family members also supported this idea. However, Parul’s mother always encouraged her to follow her heart
“I used to single handedly manage the team of women and also keep them motivated and productive. Many times, I had battled a great deal of adversity and mental health issues. But with a naturally upbeat temperament, I stepped in!”, said Parul.
We Believe India is 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 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 India members receive professional coaching, leadership training, internship and scholarship opportunities.
“Every girl like me in Haryana is still in search of the logical reasons behind these patriarchal norms and mindset which governs our lives. We crave equality, freedom and support from our own society to grow in this globalized world and Michael Brown’s prestigious nomination is a step in that direction”, says Parul.
The coronavirus pandemic has changed a lot of things about our lives in some pretty obvious ways, changes that you’ve probably heard all about. Spending more time at home by virtue of its social structure, a variety of personal and social changes took place.
Parul saw drastic changes in her productivity and behavior during the last year. It’s so easy to get caught up in insignificant things that have little value or think too far in advance, she says. This idea got her thinking about how often we assume different perspectives on things which we shouldn’t even consider in the first place.
She let out that toxicity from her life and focused more on manifesting her goals and dreams. Something that she is currently working on overcoming is Imposter Syndrome and the unreasonable doubt that it creates.
Also, career roles have been a major source of inequality for Parul, and often been personally held back due to perception of not fitting in the managerial roles because, “she was not tough enough for corporate life, were too young or emotional, and simply could not play the game.”
Initially, she had to overcome her own self-doubts. If she was good enough. If she knew enough. If people would listen to her. If things would grow. But whatever you do, do not give up. The race of subjugating the weaker and underestimating women is no longer in some other person’s hands, you are your own inspiration.
Education and skills can help you live like a professional if you use both. Parul is also a PriceWaterHouseCoopers NextGen Leader, International Women Leadership speaker, WEDU Rising Star 2021, Public Relations and Communication Specialist and English Literature Graduate; and have recently become the first Indian women (age category 18 – 30) to be nominated for Michael Brown Award dedicated to the memory of Michael Brown BCA ~2020 Winner of ‘He For She’.
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