Student Spotlight: Devika Ranjan
This summer, I worked as a Projects for Peace Fellow in Jammu and Kashmir. Projects for Peace is an initiative that encourages student innovation and entrepreneurship to engage in conflict prevention, resolution, and reconciliation. As a Projects for Peace Fellow, I facilitated theater workshops for women who live on the India-Pakistan border. Because of their border location, the women and their families are often displaced by cross-border shellings or firings. Because they are responsible for the agriculture and cattle, they must risk their lives to maintain their livelihoods.
Through theater, we explored their problems and discussed solutions and their consequences—from international surgical strikes to the more prevalent issues of alcoholism and domestic violence. Theater helped them to understand their rights, know that they are not alone, and create a community of women that stands together against injustice.
The women then performed their plays and proposed government interventions in front of the district magistrate, who was so impressed by their courage to ask for what they wanted that she promised them what they desired: a hand-pump for water in the school, a police force to monitor domestic violence and drug abuse, and emergency transportation and shelter during times of firing. They gained immense confidence and built a beautiful community during these three weeks. Now, they have been gathering with over 100 women from neighboring villages to discuss a plan for female financial independence by creating a sewing center or packaging industry.
Devika Ranjan (SFS'17) is a senior in Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service majoring in culture and politics.