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Meet Anya Thakur of ShePower India

Today we’d like to introduce you to Anya Thakur.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Anya. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I am sharing my story with you today as an advocate for UN Women, the first Indian teen to launch a UN Women campaign and most importantly, someone with a mission.

Through working closely with organizations including the United Nations, UN Women, We Movement and the Jane Goodall Foundation, I am honored to champion global empowerment as a UN Women advocate and further the mission to build a brighter future for millions.

ShePower is a global movement and organization I founded aiming to advocate and uplift women and girls, underrepresented minorities such as Asian-Americans and South and East Asian women and diverse voices. Almost a year ago, I partnered with We Movement and MetoWe to make a difference and shine a light on women’s voices and empowerment and the power they have to uplift their communities.

ShePower upholds UN Women’s mission to ensure an equitable future and opportunity for all through fighting for representation and visibility while empowering and elevating. ShePower hosts empowerment, leadership and self-defense workshops for women and girls in Delhi, Mumbai, Coimbatore, and Manipur in India and has spearheaded dozens of outreach efforts.

And through creating, celebrating, and curating women’s stories, through ShePower, I fight for those who cannot fight for themselves and am proud to elevate the voices of women. At heart, I’m a dreamer. But I’m striving to achieve representation and empowerment.

The power to influence and enact change with my platform as a UN Women advocate is both gratifying and humbling. Through championing women’s voices, Asian American representation and global change as among the nation’s youngest to be involved with the UN on a global level and as a UN Women advocate, I’ve found my own voice.

As a teen celebrity journalist in the Los Angeles Times, Women’s Voices Editor for Medium, Arts & Entertainment Editor for Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, and Arts & Entertainment journalist for LinkedIn, media is an incredible way to share my story and enact change while amassing an audience of tens of thousands of readers and visionaries. And writing with substance and purpose is both freeing and empowering.

I’m immensely proud of how my work has resonated with so many who have reached out to me, from interns at UN Women to young leaders such as Stanford University’s sophomore class president. But I want to reflect on the moments that left me breathless and exultant all because of young girls in rural India. I’m honored to advocate for UN Women and turn my dreams, and those of leaders and luminaries, into a reality and make an impact in the lives of young women and girls.

And as a new advocate for UN Women, it is an honor to join the ranks of luminaries like Emma Watson and Angelina Jolie, known for both their body of work and their activism, and continue to create a lasting legacy for this generation. The ideas of Gen-Z and the ideas and talents we are using to organize together and transform our world are reflected in the indelible impact we are having.

Whether the girls I met in India or those on a world stage, global leaders are fueled by energy and compassion to better the world which is why I strive to raise awareness of obstacles many must overcome and opportunities to support equality. All girls and every child deserves to be healthy, safe, counted and in a position to be in the next generation of leaders.

We see potential leaders everywhere. It’s time for women and girls to see it in themselves. And as a teen celebrity journalist and women’s advocate through UN Women, I am honored to further their mission in creating and making a better and brighter future a reality for millions of girls. When we empower girls hungry for education and opportunity, we can change lives as I’ve experienced first hand.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have been challenges I have witnessed, but I am forever grateful for my journey.

Seeing my work resonate with, impact others and have the power to enact change is incredibly gratifying and perennially reminds me of the importance of sharing my voice in a vast landscape.

I was recently reached out to by Celine Foster, the Vice President of Marketing for Stanford Women in Business and this year’s Stanford University sophomore class president, for my experience in journalism as she sought advice and expertise on starting an interview series at her school.

I was honored at her praise of my “amazing journalism experience” and told her the importance of pursuing her passions and starting out. And my words are something that I would share with everyone, from the young girls in India who I worked with to my younger self. Our voices are powerful, and we should not wait to change the world.

And education is education, and that is essential to empowerment, whether for the wide-eyed girls in India who nurtured and ignited the tender sparks within themselves once we gave them the matchsticks to make a flame to the interview series that shapes up as I write this. Both burn and flare with potential and possibility from the inside. It’s up to us to allow women and girls everywhere to realize this potential.

Reach out to your local women’s and community organizations to help me further my mission and never doubt your voice is fundamentally valuable and a catalyst for change and find your place as a global citizen.

With my mom and dad, we spent time traveling to underserved places – taking trips to parts of Delhi, Manipur, Mumbai, and Coimbatore, where I saw children in the hot sun and barefoot on the dirt roads, peddling souvenirs for a few rupees to bring home, barely amounting to pennies. My family helped inspire me to be a global citizen, aware of the great diversity in our world and the different challenges and circumstances people face daily.

Seeing such poverty and overwhelming obstacles both humbled and educated me, and my brown eyes burned and were prickled with tears, glazed over with shock and shielded from the hot sunlight pouring down as I raised my arms to shield my face. “You don’t have to be scared, bacha,” my mom said. “Be aware and be the change, but don’t be afraid.”

As I pressed paper bills into the hands of a little boy selling miniature plastic replicas of the tremendous mausoleum of the Taj Mahal my family had visited and offered him a smile as his face was awash with gratitude and relief, I wished and yearned to do more. I may not have been able to do it in that moment, but I am striving to now.

I spoke about this for UN Women’s GirlUp Dallas just a year ago. It is a testament to the unyielding spirit I have as a young girl, and the responsibility I feel too grown women and girls everywhere, underscored by my work as an advocate and activist. Seeing my work resonate with, impact others and have the power to enact change is incredibly gratifying and perennially reminds me of the importance of sharing my voice in a vast landscape.

I was recently reached out to by Celine Foster, the Vice President of Marketing for Stanford Women in Business and this year’s Stanford University sophomore class president, for my experience in journalism as she sought advice and expertise on starting an interview series at her school. I was honored at her praise of my “amazing journalism experience” and told her the importance of pursuing her passions and starting out.

And my words are something that I would share with everyone, from the young girls in India who I worked with to my younger self. Our voices are powerful, and we should not wait to change the world. And education is education, and that is essential to empowerment, whether for the wide-eyed girls in India who nurtured and ignited the tender sparks within themselves once we gave them the matchsticks to make a flame to the interview series that shapes up as I write this.

Both burn and flare with potential and possibility from the inside. It’s up to us to allow women and girls everywhere to realize this potential. Reach out to your local women’s and community organizations to help me further my mission and never doubt your voice is fundamentally valuable and a catalyst for change and find your place as a global citizen.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about ShePower India – what should we know?
You can follow my story on Instagram @anyaathakur (https://www.instagram.com/anyaathakur/) where I share my photography, topics on empowerment and create content sharing my work as a UN Women advocate and MetoWe partner promoting change-making, advocacy and the empowerment of women and girls in underserved areas.

I strive to use social media for positive social change and sharing the issues I am passionate about such as practicing altruism and supporting the homeless, women’s empowerment and self-confidence. I collaborate with brands including Victoria Secret PINK to shoot content and endorse their lines and campaigns such as VS Holiday and Victoria Sport, as well as Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Everyone I’ve met. Whether the girls I met in India or those on a world stage, global leaders are fueled by energy and compassion to better the world which is why I strive to raise awareness of obstacles many must overcome and opportunities to support equality. All girls and every child deserves to be healthy, safe, counted and in a position to be in the next generation of leaders.

We see potential leaders everywhere. It’s time for women and girls to see it in themselves. And as a teen celebrity journalist and women’s advocate through UN Women, I am honored to further their mission in creating and making a better and brighter future a reality for millions of girls. When we empower girls hungry for education and opportunity, we can change lives as I’ve experienced first hand.

The little girls would always come up to me, and of course, we laughed and bonded.

Throughout it all, I also wanted to impart a deeper message of substance and vitality and help them to fight social ignominy and child marriage or lack of opportunities by hailing the importance of girls’ education.

I remember when I was leaving one day, a girl came up to me and told me she wanted to be like me one day. I felt incredibly grateful, but I told her I hoped she wanted to be like herself and know her value. Touching other people like that is just so amazing.

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