Why we felt she needed to be included in this list: Trisha Shetty founded SheSays, a youth-led NGO providing emotional, legal and financial support to victims of sexual abuse and violence.
As a feminist and founder of Mumbai-based NGO SheSays, Trisha Shetty is no stranger to receiving unsolicited dick pictures and thousands of anonymous death and rape threats and being subjected to online abuse on social media, all because she advocates for equal rights for women. But the 29-year-old lawyer and social activist believes you’re either a passive watcher, you’re either perpetuating it or you’re actively doing something to end the cycle.
Shetty founded SheSays, to end gender-based discrimination and advance women’s rights in India by engaging with youth and activating them as agents of social change. Since its foundation in 2015, the NGO has made headlines for its work fighting issues of sexism and breaking down legal barriers to women’s rights. SheSays provides financial, emotional and legal support to victims of sexual abuse and violence. Its website, accessible in regional and foreign languages, educates people on their rights and includes a breakdown on relevant legislation as well as step-by-step information on what to do as a survivor. NGO staff are also available to accompany victims and their families to the police station, hospitals and courts to fight for their rights and healthcare.
I realized that many people were talking about violence against women, but the conversation was not centred around the survivor who needs rehabilitation.Elle India
In 2017, the organization spearheaded #LahuKaLagaan, a campaign asking then-minister Arun Jaitley to abolish taxes on sanitary napkins. Although the movement went viral and was supported by celebrities such as Kaneez Surka, Mallika Dua and Aditi Rao Hydari, it did not gain much political traction. The NGO filed a public interest litigation claim in court asking the government to justify their taxes and, as a result, India officially scrapped the tax in 2018.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Shetty says that as a child she was encouraged by her mother to speak openly against discrimination. She completed a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology from Jai Hind College, University of Mumbai and later graduated as a lawyer from the University of Mumbai. In 2018, she was selected as an Obama Foundation Scholar and completed a one-year specialized training, educational and mentorship program at Columbia University in New York City.
A survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself, Shetty says she owes her success to the organization of youth-led resilience against corruption.
In 2016, she was selected as one of the 17 youth leaders for the inaugural class of United Nations Youth Leaders for Sustainable Development Goals. In 2017, she was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list under the categories Pioneer Women and Social Entrepreneur and she delivered the keynote address at the UN ECOSOC Youth Forum. The following year, she was selected as one of 13 Indians to join the inaugural Young Leaders India-France Club launched by French President Emmanuel Macron, during his State visit to India and she was inducted into the final Queen’s Young Leader Cohort by Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.
The problems we’re looking at are complex, but the solutions don’t have to be. What is important however is for the solutions to be localized. Not to be cause-driven but need driven … for the solutions to be sustainable and most of all for solutions to have a gendered lens.YouTube
Shetty was co-contributor to the Sunday Times best seller, Feminists Don’t Wear Pink (2018), a collection of short stories by female leaders and activists to raise money for the UN initiative Girl Up. In 2018, On International Day of the Girl Child, Shetty helped Michelle Obama launch the Global Girls Alliance under the Obama Foundation and joined Zendaya, Karlie Kloss and Jennifer Hudson on Today, urging viewers to take a stand for marginalized girls.
In 2018, Shetty became the vice-president of the Paris Peace Forum Steering Committee and this year, she was named president of the committee, where she’s working with French President Emmanuel Macron to host an annual event supporting international cooperation and global governance to ensure durable peace.
For Shetty, the future lies in the hands of youth. Before starting SheSays, she co-founded the ThincQuisitive Foundation, a platform for youth to contribute towards societal change and she co-lead the United Nations Young Changemakers Conclave in 2011.
Thumbnail Photo Credit: www.instagram.com/trishashetty
Main Image Photo Credit: www.vogue.in