‘Lucknow Leaders’ was a recent initiative to make the voices and opinions of young women from marginalised communities heard in the digital space. Helmed by graduates of our leadership courses, it was started during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 as an online series held on social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp and Instagram. The stories of these women’s experience of living through the pandemic, invariably absent from mainstream media, were finally aired through this initiative.
As each wave of the pandemic caused these young women to become more isolated kept out of school and colleges and restricted to their homes Lucknow Leaders became increasingly popular. A second series was launched during the pandemic’s devastating second wave in the summer of 2021. To lift the spirits of women and girls and to showcase talent, photography, videography, and poster-making competitions were organised.

‘Sheherbandi’ (The First Lockdown)

The content was built around three main themes:

1. ‘Aapbeeti’ (Our Experiences), which described the everyday challenges of life during the pandemic. Some of the themes explored included the increased work burden on girls, the mental health issues that arose because of their being locked inside the four walls of their homes, and how gender roles were ever more rigidly imposed on young girls and women

2. ‘Jaankari’, where information was provided simply and misinformation (about the virus, vaccination, Covid-19 protocols) were dispelled.

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3. ‘Timepass’, a light-hearted theme that included storytelling, poetry and art.

Uniquely, the producers of the content for Lucknow Leaders are young women. Team members collect and record untold stories of young girls and women from hidden alleyways, conducting interviews and taking photographs from the grassroots. And, over the past two years Lucknow Leaders has evolved into a regular programme. Its mandate now includes presenting Sadbhavana’s work on social media using creative methods, running social media campaigns on women’s issues and increasing young women’s digital access by educating young girls and women on how to use social media platforms. Starting with the production of content, the dissemination of that content has also become a priority. Lucknow Leaders’ subscriber base on various platforms has also seen a tremendous increase.


Online Competitions: Showcasing Young Women’s Talent

1. ‘Photography Pratiyogita’: ‘Unlock Lamhein’ (Unlock Moments). This photography competition was held shortly after the lockdown restrictions began to lift. Participants sent in photos capturing moments of people re-entering the public sphere. We received 145 entries.


Shortlisted candidates were invited to take part in a Zoom webinar where an external judge announced the winner.

2. ‘Mohalla Pakhwan’ (Neighbourhood Cooking). This was a community-level cooking competition. During the lockdown women prepared meals with limited ingredients, innovating with familiar recipes. Competitors were asked to share recipes, via videos, of the innovations they had attempted. An external judge announced the top three winners through the event out of six candidates who were shortlisted from a total of 50. Click on the links below to discover recipes for unique home food that you won’t see on the streets of Lucknow!