Women Inspiring Social Harmony

WISH is an organization that advocates for women's rights through summer programs and mentorships for underprivileged middle school girls.

Photo of aarushi!
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Additional categories (optional)

  • Technology

Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Eligibility: Date of Birth

06/29/2003

Help us stay in touch!

832-613-3297 Texas: Houston (77008)

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: wishforequality Twitter: wishforequality Website: wishhouston.wordpress.com

Date You Started Your Project Started

January 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We're solving the issue of gender-based inequities in education. We've seen that a lot of low-income girls don't have access to the resources that they need to be successful, and that many of them are unable to attend school because they can't afford menstrual products or feel highly discouraged by their families. It's crucial to solve these issues to ensure that every girl stays in school and has the opportunity to fulfill her full potential.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We're hoping to solve this problem through yearly summer career immersion camps that expose underprivileged girls to different fields, with an emphasis on STEM as well as entrepreneurship and writing. The first summer camp we hosted this year had guest speakers from women in the fields of medicine, computer science, activism, and scientific research. We're also hosting our first mentorship for these girls and have picked 15 of the 25 who attended our camp and matched them with a high-achieving high school mentor that will provide them with tutoring, counseling, advice, and support to keep them motivated and encouraged to stay in school and prepare them for the future. We're also planning to target these younger girls in our communities and provide them with menstrual and school supplies so that they are motivated to stay in school and don't have to worry about economic issues as well. Our goal is to unlock the potential that every girl has, and to provide them with the support and resources that they need to pursue their dreams. We want them to know the full extent of the possibilities and options they have in so many fields and that they can do whatever they set their mind to.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

I decided to start WISH because I saw how severe educational inequalities were in India when I visited it this summer. I realized that many girls were unable to attend school for almost a week every month because they couldn't afford menstrual products. The place that I was staying at was actually close to a village stricken with poverty, and I really wanted to help them out in some way and ensure that the girls there would get to go to school. When I came back here, I researched period poverty further and realized that even in the U.S., many low-income girls can't afford menstrual products and end up regularly missing school from an early age. Seeing how my own family and community in India was impacted by this issue, I decided to bring my passions back with me to provide disadvantaged girls with the resources they need to be successful, and I hope to bring my work to India someday.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

When a person gets involved with our project, they stay connected to us. Even beyond our summer career immersion program, we try to keep our girls engaged by providing them with as many opportunities as we can, such as our mentorship, and connecting them to professionals in their field of interest so they can learn more about how to get there. An example is that one of the sessions at our summer camp was a writing session that introduced the girls to creative writing, poetry and journalism. As I was leading the journalism session and guiding them through their article, I found out that the majority of the girls, if not all of them, had never even gotten the opportunity to write an article before. One girl couldn't stop writing and told me how passionate she was and how much she really loved it. We picked her for the mentorship and are hoping to make her passion for writing a reality.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Other projects that focus on women empowerment and education often focus on high school and college students and while these initiatives are truly incredible, they don't account for the numerous girls who often don't even make it that far. So many younger girls are forced to miss school due to a lack of menstrual products or just family support and so they often drop out before even reaching high school. Our programs target middle school girls before they've made up their minds about not going to high school or college so we can keep more girls in school and hopefully, have more make it there.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

So far, we've had 25 girls attend our summer camp and have around 25 people who are involved in the WISH chapter I run at my school. We may not be very far in terms of numbers, but we're hoping to expand even more and change more lives! In terms of stories, there are many. WISH seems to touch and change lives in insane ways, for both us and the girls we meet. I especially connected to the girl that I'm mentoring. The second she walked in, I loved her energy, enthusiasm, and her courage to speak up and share what was on her mind. I immediately wanted to get to know her better, to support her throughout her journey, and to provide her with the resources she needed to be successful, and thus the WISH mentorship was born. Today, we schedule calls and talk about her courses, her goals, and just her life in general, and her positive outlook constantly motivates me to see the best in things.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

I actually have a lot of ideas on how to expand WISH! I'm hoping to go on a sort of tour to low-income middle schools and speak to the girls there so we can reach out to new groups of people and get more girls involved with our program! I'm also hoping to start more WISH chapters in schools (currently we only have one that I run at my school, but others are on the way!) and to find new organizations to partner with to do cool workshops, period kit events, fundraisers, donation drives, and more! I'm also hoping to improve our four-day camp and maybe extend it to a residential or weeklong one at a college so they have a better experience and can connect and engage with other girls more (since one of our main goals is building sisterhood)!

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Marketing Strategy

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • LGBTQ community
  • Other

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges

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Photo of Mamoudou Bah
Team

This is so inspiring Aarushi!! You have so much potential and I believe there is an enormous amount of value in the work you are doing! Providing menstrual products for young for young girls of lower-income demographics is really good- keeps them in school and protects them from bullying! I can’t wait to see what you can accomplish taking and expanding your experience and organization to India-you’ve got my support! You could also try reaching out to large companies for donations such as Walmart Inc. They may be able to offer free menstrual products or work out a deal with you and your team and be able to impact and empower even more young women! Such greatness!

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