Packed with witty humor, eighteen year old Aakriti is a fresh high school graduate eagerly waiting to be enrolled in the MBBS course in Jalalabad Ragib Rabeya Medical College in Bangladesh. When asked about the reason for opting the medical route, she confidently replies, “I want to be a change maker in my society and I believe that being a doctor will enable me to do so. Besides, being a doctor sounds like quite an adventure. To be able to travel to remote places in my own country, saving people’s lives or relieving their pain seems like a good thing to do with my life.”
Being a science student, Aakriti recalls being expected to stay locked up in her room studying rigorously. Aakriti loves writing and also takes great interest in the social science and politics which is why she couldn’t conform to that norm and decided to join Women LEAD. She says, “Joining Women LEAD seemed like the perfect place for me to explore more. I knew I’d be meeting other girls like me- girls whose sole interest would be to learn more and to equip themselves with the tools to be able to call themselves as leaders. That excited me so much and inspired me to join Women LEAD”.
Aakriti says, “Women LEAD is like a family to me. Since the very first day I walked in at Women LEAD for the open house, I’ve always felt more empowered as a young lady. Unlike most of society which is filled with skeptics who don’t believe in a young lady’s dreams or aspirations, Women LEAD has always been the one place that has had faith in me. I have friends who share the same dreams as me. We have people whom we can tell our problems to and who help us solve it. I’ve made great friends who have had my back during my highs and lows. My mentor, Aishwarya has also helped me a lot and I think this is why I absolutely love Women LEAD.”
She further adds, “I’ve learnt my life’s biggest lessons at Women LEAD. The first one, however, that comes to mind is about active listening. I am not a patient listener, and so during my initial days at Women LEAD, I remember having a difficult time trying to keep my thoughts to myself until the opportunity came. It was only after learning about various personality types that I started acknowledging the other person’s presence in the room! The 2 week long leadership training equipped me with the knowledge about the basics of who a leader is. The school leadership program has transformed me from being a chatter box to a poised speaker. From being a girl who was unsure if the world would accept her for who she was to being a girl who accepts herself for who she is, I’ve grown a lot since I joined Women LEAD”.
When asked what Aakriti wants to change in her society, she says, “I’d like to change the way people view women in our society. When it comes to gender issues, there seems to be a huge gap in understanding between the people who are clamoring for gender equality and the ones who are supposed to be receiving the message. People have started paying attention to issues that affect women but that isn’t enough. As a human, it frustrates me sometimes to know that I am not allowed to go out at night because I am a girl. To be living in a society that believes that only girls get raped and that guys are not vulnerable to rape angers me sometimes. So, when I say I want to change this situation, I know I am not alone. I have my friends from Women LEAD who share the same frustration. To have people who are equally committed in changing these stereotypes is what I consider my greatest help. Women LEAD has provided me with so much support and I am so thankful to Women LEAD for that”.