My recent speech on behalf of the United Nations and for a UN Women foundation has since been circulated to thousands of girls and young women in rural India. The power to influence and enact change with my platform is both gratifying and humbling and speaking to an audience who shares the dream of eradicating inequality helped me to overcome the nerves tingling within me. 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.
When working with organizations such as the United Nations, UN Women, We Movement and MetoWe, and the Jane Goodall Foundation, it was important to me to not just attach my name to an organization, but to advance it and create a lasting impact.
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.
Excerpts from my speech:
“My name is Anya Thakur and I am a teen celebrity journalist for the LA Times, UN Women advocate and the founder and trustee of ShePower, a global organization I founded in partnership with MetoWe to empower and uplift women and girls and share diverse voices.
I recently published a piece on the importance of educating and uplifting girls and on my work with ShePower in Ariana Huffington’s Thrive Global, as many underserved women lack access to sanitary pads and hygiene products and in rural India, stigmas prevent girls from going to school and receiving adequate health information or products for menstruation. My aim was to raise awareness of an important issue faced by underserved girls and women in the US and India destigmatizing periods and the work I am doing to empower and uplift them and their communities, having worked extensively and led outreach efforts in downtown Dallas by donating over 5,000 pads funded by a grant from the Jane Goodall Institute, as well as hosting empowerment and self-defense workshops and disseminating health information and products in parts of India such as Delhi, Coimbatore, Munipur, Tamil Nadu, and Mumbai.
I want to share my story to raise awareness and integrate consciousness and share topics of substance and purpose to inspire young women in their own leadership efforts and pursuing their potential.”