Hello! I’m Akhil Neelam from India, and my journey in public policy and advocacy has been a testament to the power of perseverance and vision. As the Co-Founder and Director of Research & Operations at the Centre for Gender And Politics (CGAP), my mission has been to foster gender equality in the political landscapes of South Asia.
The Challenge of Gender Disparity
The world of politics, especially in South Asia, has long been a male-dominated arena. Women, despite their potential and capabilities, have been underrepresented and often sidelined. This disparity was the catalyst that drove me to collaborate with my co-founder, Sugandha, and establish CGAP, a platform dedicated to amplifying the voices of women in political spaces.
Under my leadership, CGAP has made significant strides. From publishing insightful articles and reports to hosting roundtables that foster discourse on gender equality, our reach has been expansive. Mobilising over 100 volunteers across South Asia, we’ve managed to create a ripple effect, challenging age-old norms and advocating for change.
Inspiration to Act
My motivation stems from a deep-seated belief in equality and justice. Recognitions like being a Youth Leader for UN Women’s 30 for 2030 Network and a UNESCO’s GRO GEST fellow have been affirmations of our impactful work. But beyond accolades, it’s the stories of empowered women breaking barriers and making a difference that truly inspire me. My co-founder’s commitment to gender equality and the unparalleled spirit of our entire volunteer network inspired me to continue my commitment to the cause.
Aligning with SDG 5
Sustainable Development Goal 5 focuses on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. At CGAP, our initiatives resonate with this goal. By highlighting the achievements of women leaders, providing resources, and fostering a community of advocates, we aim to accelerate the realization of SDG 5, particularly its target 5.5 to ensure gender equality in public leadership and decision-making in South Asia.
The Path Forward
The journey, while rewarding, has its set of challenges. From fundraising hurdles to navigating the sensitive confluence of gender and politics, the road hasn’t been easy. But with a clear vision and an unwavering commitment, we at CGAP are determined to pave the way for a more gender-equal world.
In conclusion, as we commemorate International Youth Day, I’m filled with hope. The youth, with their energy and dynamism, are our torchbearers. And with the right guidance and resources, I believe they will lead us to a world where gender equality isn’t just a goal but a lived reality.