“How are you affected by your city’s design? By the location of your school? Or the location of your work? As a woman? As a mother? As a student? As a youth?”

“In 2012, India brought a new enactment of protection of child rights from sexual offences with the highest penalization of this act, but still young girls are being raped and murdered.”

“Often there is no involvement of women in leadership and local governance.”

“Teenage girls get pregnant and they have to drop out of schools.”

Like the women who strive to address them, these social issues are diverse, yet connected.

Abiodun Omowunmi Essiet (Nigeria), Dr. Mamatha Achanta (India), Dr. Olayinka Oluwakemi Adeniyi (South Africa), and Tigist Kassahun Temesgen (Ethiopia) are Coady’s 2018 Women Research Fellows.

Read their biographies here.

The Women Research Fellowship offers Coady graduates an opportunity to return to the Institute’s campus to carry out action-research and community projects connected to their work at home.

“There are a number of academic fellowships, but I haven’t found anything in the social sector particularly for women,” Mamatha says. “I came to know that more than 100 applications were received and only four were selected. I felt very happy, Coady is always like a homecoming. It always helps us to give space. It never discriminates us. I have seen the sisterhood and the mentorship here that I have not seen anywhere else.”

Although their work spans from urban architecture to women in politics to issues of violence and abuse, the common thread in their collective work is that of equality, equity, and inclusion for women and children — and they each continue to strive for change despite many challenges.

“Many times I’ve been cautioned that my voice is too loud and I speak like a man and I act like a man so instead of allowing it to be a negative, I decided to use it as a positive for me and create a voice for women,” Olayinka says. “What makes people think if I talk and I act like man then I should be one? I can be a woman too and I can be very good at it. And I use that to improve the lives of women around me.”

In addition to working tirelessly toward positive change for their communities, they are also inspiring the leaders of the future.

“I have been the pioneer of a movement,” Abiodun says. “I am having positive feedback from women who are saying out loud to me that they also want to be like me. I’ve inspired a lot of people to break the glass ceiling.”

And what do those future leaders need to succeed in today’s world?

“I would tell them to be more resilient than resistant because resistance doesn’t bring any kind of change,” Tigist says. “Instead it will just take you backwards.”