October 20, 2023
In a world that often measures beauty by external appearances, one young girl named Diksha discovered the true essence of beauty and embarked on a path to empower herself and others. This is the inspiring story of Diksha, a Room to Read Girls’ Education Program student from Nepal who learned to see her own beauty and went on to challenge unjust traditions and strive for gender equality in her community.
Diksha’s skin was a darker shade than the people in her village. Everyone saw her as different. Kids teased her. Her mother pressured her to use whitening cream. Diksha would look into the mirror and ask herself, “How can I feel so beautiful on the inside, but not see it on the outside?”
Diksha’s older sister was angered by the discrimination in her family. She took Diksha to a field of flowers. “Look,” she said. “You are just another color in the midst of all these blossoms.” In that moment, Diksha understood that she was beautiful, inside and out.
One day, Diksha noticed her friend, Sita, was not at school. Sita’s family believed in a tradition that prohibited girls from going to school when they were menstruating, and forced Sita to sleep in the animal shed when she had her period. Diksha knew no girl should ever be made to feel ashamed of her body, so she took her Room to Read life skills notebook and went to visit Sita’s grandmother. It was unusual for a young person to confront an elder, but Diksha knew it was the right thing to do.
Diksha's journey from self-doubt to self-acceptance, from witnessing injustice to taking action with support and collaboration from family and friends, is a testament to the transformative power of developing self-confidence and using it to uplift others. Diksha plans to work for girls’ equality when she is older. Her determination to fight against inequities serves as an inspiration for us all to stand up for what is right and work towards a more inclusive and just society.
Diksha is one of the girls featured in She Creates Change, Room to Read’s multimedia storytelling initiative to promote gender equality through the stories of young women. The project includes six animated and live-action films that profile how brave young women like Diksha in historically low-income communities have utilized skills and mentorship to overcome obstacles in their lives — from food scarcity to harassment to early marriage. She Creates Change aims to inspire young women everywhere to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories.