Rhea Sanger: Breaking the Mold

It was during an internship in women’s rights and gender equality at John Hopkins that Rhea Sanger realized she wanted to go beyond research and actually make a difference in the lives of women. But where? And how?

Pratham instantly sprang to mind. Her family has a long history with the organization: Rhea visited a balwadi (preschool) as a child and has attended many Pratham events over the years. Her father, Arvind, is a former chairman of Pratham USA who helped establish the New York chapter. Her mother, Shilpa is a member of the NY Tri-State Board and has served as gala chair on numerous occasions.

Rhea and the Pratham team designed a course in digital literacy and public speaking that she would teach. In 2019, then a senior in high school, Rhea spent three weeks training young women in Pratham’s healthcare and beauty programs at two centers in Mumbai.

“Indian women are often told to bottle up their thoughts and emotions,” explains Rhea. “Public speaking had been integral in developing my own confidence, so I was eager to share these exercises with the women and help them find their voice.”

She chronicled her incredible experience in Breaking the Mold, a book tracing the stories of young women in Mumbai preparing to start a new life. “These women had never been given the opportunity to have a platform to share their ideas, hopes and aspirations. What they had to say was truly powerful. These are just a few of the millions of unheard stories.”

Thanks to Rhea, their stories are now being heard. “It is amazing to see how effortlessly she gets into the lives of the girls and brings out their powerful stories,” exclaims Rukmini Banerji. “Rhea herself has also broken the mold.”

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