Jyoti is a 17-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh, a state in India which accounts for 20% of the country’s adolescent population and has some of the worst gender indicators for girls and women in the world.

In 2018, Jyoti joined Girl Rising’s Global Education Fund partner, Milaan Foundation’s Girl Icon program, which provides life-skills training to adolescent girls in low-income communities with the passion to fight for their rights. She is a fierce champion for gender equity and has tackled important issues such as celebrating girl births, menstrual health, tetanus shots and now, COVID-19.

When the lockdown in India was announced, the Milaan team reached out to Jyoti and other Girl Icon fellows to help them understand COVID-19 and raise awareness about the virus in their communities. With the help of her sister, Jyoti made 30 posters about health and hygiene and pasted them across her village. She also sewed hundreds of cloth masks and distributed them to those in need. When she couldn’t find menstrual pads at her local store, she knew this was an issue every woman and girl in her village would be facing as well. Using online research, she taught herself how to sew cloth pads and together with the peer members in her group, taught women and girls throughout their village to cut, sew and make their own pads at home. In just 4 days, they provided these critical supplies to over 900 people.