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About Rukhmabai initiatives

Rukhmabai Initiatives was launched in 2020, in honour of one of India’s first practising female doctors. Our mandate is to work towards recognising and improving the presence of Indian women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

Rukhmabai was a feminist icon of the British era who went against the conventions when she refused to move into her marital home and contested a historic legal battle for her rights, which eventually led to the enactment of the Age of Consent Act, 1891. After the dissolution of her marriage, Rukhmabai continued her education and went on to pursue a career in medicine. She served as the chief medical officer of the Women’s Hospital in Surat

Rukhmabai’s grit and determination to realise her potential is an inspiration for millions of young girls and women pursuing the sciences and related fields. At Rukhmbai Initiatives, we want to celebrate her legacy by adding our efforts to that of educators, institutions, governments and civil society groups who are trying to bring in, and more importantly, retain more women in STEM. 

This is especially challenging, given the deeply embedded biases in society, gender stereotypes, financial constraints, lack of early childhood exposure, poverty of opportunities and so on. Even for women who do manage to get a foothold into the sciences, making it through the door is not guaranteed thanks to the infamous ‘leaky pipeline’. Unsatisfactory levels of career attainment, exclusionary policies and a general lack of support and mentorship is resulting in more and more women dropping out of STEM careers. But if we are to have equitable progress and a greater pace and scope of scientific breakthrough, this challenge must be met head-on. 

Hence, Rukhmabai Initiatives. 

A humble effort to recognize the roadblocks and ease the way through for marginalized genders in the sciences.

Our three-pronged approach

A gargantuan task like improving gender representation in STEM, especially amidst the unique and pervasive gender challenges posed by Indian society, requires a sustained and multi-dimensional effort. At Rukhmabai Initiatives, we figured that our best bet to make an impact was to channel our resources and time into three distinct verticals, each complementing the other. 

Representation

We believe that storytelling is the first step in creating and shaping role models. Through inspiring stories, we hope to encourage young women to not just dream big but draw their attention to relatable role models whose journeys and struggles can motivate them through their own. In partnership with 101Reporters, we launched the Rukhmabai Fellowship in 2020, in order to highlight the life and work of incredible contemporary Indian women in STEM.

Across two editions, we selected five fellows and produced 28 stories, highlighting the work of dozens of Indian women taking the sciences forward in the country. In order to expand the scope of the work we do to increase visible representations of women in science, we decided to restructure the program to provide bigger grants for a more wide range of storytelling media like videos, films, photo essays, illustrations, podcasts and more.

More on Rukhmabai Grants Click Here

Exposure

Often lack of helpful information is a deterrent for students who are on the cusp of zeroing in on a major or choosing a career path. Clarity on the options available and opportunities awaiting them will help them and their guardians make informed choices. We want to create better awareness through career workshops, counselling, school fairs and more.

Support

A more direct form of intervention, our support vertical will focus on scholarships, aid for educational material, technology support, funding to attend courses and events and crowdfunding initiatives to ensure meritorious and motivated girls overcome obstacles in entering and excelling in the fields of STEM.

To support or work with us… Contact us

If you are an agency, institution or individual who wants to work with us on any of these initiatives towards our stated goal, do call or write to us click here

About 101

101Reporters is a pan-India network of almost 3,000 freelance journalists from the grassroots. Founded in October 2015, this network feeds our operations as a boutique news agency as well as a publishing platform, styled as an online rural news magazine; the latter ensures that every important story that comes our way sees the light of day. All our stories are free to republish under the creative commons license. Read more about us here.

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