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Millennium Fellow Uses Media to Revolutionize Female Storytelling

Pranjal Jain is a 2019 Millennium Fellow, a student at Cornell University, former undocumented immigrant, and the founder of a revolutionary female empowerment media platform, Global Girlhood

Global Girlhood aims to transform the way that women interact with each other across the globe. It does this by gathering common women’s stories of empowerment and then sharing those stories with other women in other communities. This, in turn, creates a global platform that bridges intercultural gaps and fosters lasting connections by creating a network of women who are invested in each others success. 

Global Girlhood is a project that is very personal to Pranjal. Because she grew up as a South-Asian American and an undocumented immigrant, she did not see many role models in the media that looked like her or represented her. 

“I rarely got to see women who looked like me and wanted to pursue the same field as me. That lack of representation fueled my background and my life up until now.”

To connect with women that were from the same culture as her, Pranjal spent the entire summer in 2019 interviewing women in the Jaipur community, where she was born. She went into the community intending to empower the women around her. However, once she started speaking to them she found her own personal empowerment through them. She interviewed these women on their stories, their childhood, most empowering moments, etc and was able to learn that the women that she interviewed were all already empowered in their own way.

“Growing up, I heard that women in India are less empowered than other women. We are taught that women who are not here (in America) are not as empowered as we are. But that’s not true. When you go to those places and you ask the women their stories they are just as empowering if not more. They are just told differently and seen differently.” 

From there, Pranjal had the realization that her project had to decolonize ideals that had been taught to her over a lifetime. She had to dispel the idea that empowerment has to look a certain way and realized that the women of Jaipur were empowered but they had different narratives of empowerment than women in America do. 

Pranjal first heard of the Millennium Fellowship when she was a senior in high school through an alumnus of the Fellowship. She took part in his project and was able to learn more about the program from there. Since joining the Fellowship she was able to comport the lessons of the program to her project. 

“I think the Fellowship really showed me the importance of community-based change. Growing up I used to think that change starts with one person. Media always idolizes that one person who spearheaded change but no change is done in isolation and the Millennium Fellowship definitely showed me that. Having a community of people that are supporting your project and are invested in your success showed me that we can only create change if we all do it together.”

Global Girlhood launched on December 19th, 2019 . To commemorate, they hosted a launch event in NYC at the Sap Next Gen Innovation Space. The event was grounded in storytelling and ensuring that attendees left feeling equipped to gather stories and seek the power within their own stories. The launch event featured a workshop on narrative building led by model and activist Shivani Persad and organizer Andrea Gonzalez. It also included storytelling circles meant to galvanize attendees to begin to formulate and share their stories. The event ended with a panel on the importance of authentic storytelling in generating social change featuring Amanda Rice of Chick Mission, Assemblywoman Hyndman, Assemblywoman Fernandez, activist Daphne Frias, and 13 year old climate activist Amelia Levinson.

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