Pratiksha Pande has joined the ranks of other small-town girls who study hard and are rewarded by prestigious jobs – a tiny number, but ever-growing. Her hard-work and perseverance guaranteed her the job of ‘Sameeksha Adhikari’ (Review Officer) at the Allahabad High Court, an appointment that has rendered the district proud of her. Today, her dedication and discipline has made her a role model for countless other girls.

For a girl to achieve what Pratiksha has in an as-patriarchal-as-it-gets Bundeli landscape is no mean feat

When we meet Pratiksha at her home in Banda, there is an air of disarming confidence around her, and she tells us she’s enjoyed studies and studying ever since childhood, “We’ve been in Banda since 2000. I completed my schooling here. I’ve enjoyed reading since I was a child, and it is still a passion of mine. I read absolutely anything! I’m not limited by course-books, I read fiction too.” Currently working as a Gram Vikas Adhikari (Agricultural Officer) in Banda itself, Pratiksha will soon be leaving for Allahabad to take up the position of a ‘Sameeksha Adhikari’ at the Allahabad High Court. It was a tough balancing act, she shares, “There was my current 9-5 job and I was simultaneously preparing for another one, but I was determined to get a better job, at a high post. I’ve had my sights set on the High Court for a while”, she affirms, laughing.

For a girl to achieve what Pratiksha has in an as-patriarchal-as-it-gets Bundeli landscape is no mean feat, and she is well aware, “A woman’s uphill battle to education and employment begins the minute she sets foot outside the house, isn’t it? The idea of a woman studying ‘too much’ is anathema to a lot of people, including my own extended family.” She is grateful for her own immediate family – her parents and especially her father who have been nothing but supportive of her ambitions.

Pratiksha maintains that a host of people are responsible for her success, citing her friends and co-workers as her support system besides her family, “They have been a source of constant motivation and encouragement.” Pratiksha’s father has had a particularly enduring influence on her life. Belonging to a small town himself, he was not able to pursue higher studies and had to drop out of school after grade 10. But he vowed to give his children all and more when it came to education. Even today, Pratiksha’s father continues to study, and is currently working as a teacher.

As for Pratiksha, the Allahabad High Court is not the end-all and be-all of her dreams, oh no! She has made up her mind to become an IAS Officer, and has already begun her preparations for it.

On the verge of starting a new chapter in her life, she wants to send the young generation a message, especially to young girls everywhere, “Instead of getting daunted, we must deal with tough times head-on to reach our goals.”

In partnership with Khabar Lahariya