Central Bucks West Student’s Winning Essay Examines Struggles of Women in India

When Central Bucks West sopho­more Esha Gadi read the instruc­tions for the 2022 India Philanthropy Alliance Youth Essay Competition about address­ing a prob­lem beset­ting India, her mind imme­di­ate­ly went to her mom.

Esha Gadi

Esha Gadi, Sophomore, CB West

Growing up in India, Gadi’s moth­er want­ed to be a vet­eri­nar­i­an, want­ed to have the type of oppor­tu­ni­ties as a teenag­er that her daugh­ter had already been afforded.

I chose wom­en’s rights, gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion and gen­der vio­lence,’’ says Gadi, who was recent­ly named as this year’s award win­ner in the high school divi­sion. “In order to become a vet­eri­nar­i­an, you have to go into med­ical school. But my mom was born in 1979, so that was not a place of wel­come for her. Back then it was, ‘you’ve got to get mar­ried; you’ve got to have children.’’’

She was nev­er giv­en the full oppor­tu­ni­ty to show­case her tal­ents. She’s a phar­ma­cist now, which I think is great, but I also think, and she does too, that she could have been so much more.

That’s prob­a­bly why she’s push­ing me to be involved. She’s told me that she kind of sees her­self in me sometimes.’’

The India Philanthropy Alliance is a union of 14 India-oriented orga­ni­za­tions. Their col­lec­tive mis­sion is to enhance col­lab­o­ra­tion, advance the devel­op­ment of India and, over time, increase the scale and impact of phil­an­thropy ben­e­fit­ing the country.

The Youth Essay Competition was launched in the spring of 2020 as a vehi­cle for encour­ag­ing phil­an­thropic thought and action among Indian-American youth. The com­pe­ti­tion has brought togeth­er ded­i­cat­ed and tal­ent­ed youth and lead­ing phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tions that are work­ing to advance devel­op­ment and pover­ty reduc­tion pro­grams in India.

For Gadi, the essay became a vehi­cle for learn­ing more about the place where her par­ents were born, a place she has only vis­it­ed to see rel­a­tives. This informed her essay, which deals with the broad­er chal­lenges and hard­ships faced by the women of India today. The title is “A Woman’s Strife: Transfiguring the Sexual Assault Justice System and Rape Culture in India.” 

Women make up almost half of the pop­u­la­tion there,’’ Gadi says. “And for a group that big to not be able to walk alone in the night with­out being assault­ed or attacked. I thought, ‘I real­ly need to do some­thing about this because this affects more peo­ple than we think.’’’

It also became a vehi­cle to learn about her­self and over­come her own self-doubt. Before she wrote, she read, she researched and she gath­ered evi­dence on her top­ic. “I was like, ‘Can I real­ly pull this off? Can I cre­ate an essay that I’m proud of?’ Honestly, I did­n’t real­ly think I was going to win. I hon­est­ly just want­ed to do it for myself, and for the peo­ple in my life who have gone through some of those experiences.’’

Her moth­er did not believe that she had won until Esha showed her the con­grat­u­la­to­ry let­ter. Then, “She start­ed scream­ing. She told me I was doing so many things that she wished she could have done. I’ve nev­er seen her that hap­py. Ever.’’

Back in India, Esha also notices slight changes. Her grand­fa­ther even told her that he want­ed her to become a doc­tor, even though her moth­er was blocked from becom­ing one.

I def­i­nite­ly think I did this for my fam­i­ly as well. Their minds are expand­ing. They’re evolv­ing too.’’