Take the First Step: Story of an Aspiring IPS Officer

Girl Icon Anju hails from Jamasindh village in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Both her parents work as farmers on other’s lands. Earnings in the family also come from rearing and selling goats during festivals, especially festivals like Diwali. The cost per goat goes up to INR 4,000 – 6,000, depending on their weight. Anju belongs to a community that follows strict patriarchal norms. Here, educating girls is looked down upon because they believe that education will turn them into rebels. Alcoholism and child marriage are common in her community and people have come to accept them as normal. She has three siblings and considers herself fortunate, for she has better exposure to education than many other children in the same community.

Anju grew up as a shy child, running away from conversations. In her words, “I remember how I used to walk away from conversations. Even when somebody asked me a simple question, I’d just turn around and leave, I was very shy. Even when I applied for the Girl Icon Program, I thought, I won’t be able to do it; I am anything but a leader.” However, in her journey of rising as a Girl Icon, she always had her father’s support. He motivated her and encouraged her to take the first step towards gaining confidence.

Anju came to know about the Girl Icon Program through her sister and expressed her gratitude as the program helped her on her path of gaining confidence and becoming a leader. She was very sceptical about joining the program because it involved regular interactions with others and required leadership skills. In the face of all her hesitations, she took the leap of faith and has since been on the move, empowering many along the way.

Anju shares, “I was so scared when I was selected and was called for the first training session in Indore. I’d sit in my room in most of our free time and wouldn’t interact with anyone. One of my fellow Girl Icons, Priyanka reached out to me and said “Hi”, and I don’t remember looking back from that moment. I made lots of friends. I came back and formed my peer group and started our meetings and plans for social action projects.”

In her journey towards empowerment, she acquired skills that she could not even imagine she had the potential for before joining the program. She shares, “We learned so much through our training; we would sing, act and perform. Our thinking process was completely revitalised. I started planning things with my peer group. I’d come back from the training and would tell them everything. I, not only started expressing my ideas but also, started listening. I became a good listener too during the process.”

Being a Girl Icon, she has addressed several societal issues that hold women and girls back from achieving their dreams. She wants to work for the rights of those who cannot stand up for themselves. Anju aspires to become an IPS officer and make a lasting impact on society.

Author: Swati Sradhanjali (India Fellow)

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