Pranjal Jain: Social Justice Organizer, Activist, Badass Beti

When Pranjal Jain was six-months old, she immigrated to the United States from India. Little did she know that her big move from India to America would fuel her identity, passion, and activism journey.

Having been bullied herself at a younger age, she saw first-hand how little education and resources schools equipped children her age with on how to react to bullying. When Pranjal was twelve years old, she decided that she didn’t want anyone else in her school to endure the effects of bullying, so she created an anti-bullying movement. The movement consisted of Pranjal leading workshops in health classes across her middle school, holding bullying prevention workshops at her local library, and sharing her message with younger Girl Scouts. She culminated her campaign by collaborating with then, District Attorney Kathleen Rice to expand the reach of her efforts. From that point on, Pranjal immersed herself in the world of activism and created a space for her voice to be heard.

You would think that a 12 year old would be so scared about leading a whole classroom, but and for some strange reason, I just wasn’t nervous. I felt so at home and fulfilled.
— Pranjal Jain
Taken by Lauren Loncar, @laurenloncar for @allwomxnproject

Taken by Lauren Loncar, @laurenloncar for @allwomxnproject

Though Pranjal has been actively organizing and galvanizing people behind a cause since she was 12, she truly realized her passions lied with activism and organizing when she was 15. At 15, she learned that she was a former illegal immigrant and had spent the first seven years of her life undocumented. Coming to this country was a struggle for Pranjal, and she wanted to utilize everything it had to offer her. She realized that she wanted to help other people who are just like her and serve as a source of representation for underrepresented communities. From that moment onwards, she decided that everything she would do, would have the purpose of empowering people whose voices must be amplified. Her identity provides her with an interesting mix of empathy and a real chance to inflict change in communities that deserve it.

“I remember at my oath ceremony, when the woman handed me an American flag and congratulated me, ‘Congratulations for what’ instinctively flew out of my mouth. Now, I realize she was congratulating me for finally embracing both the Indian and American parts of myself.”

From there onwards, Pranjal’s activism journey had truly begun. When organizing, Pranjal always tries to further a positive message that both sides can hear and accept.

“The goal as an organizer is to always galvanize as many people as possible, and using volatile rhetoric doesn’t do that. I try to lead with peace and compassion as much as possible, because I’ve seen the power it has to impact all kinds of people.”

Taken by Alisha Barday, @alishacaptures 

Taken by Alisha Barday, @alishacaptures 

Current events sparked her motivation behind organizing. For example, after President Trump was elected, Pranjal organized a peaceful rally at her school, furthering the need for acceptance. After the Parkland Shooting, Pranjal helped organize a Vigil, commemorating the lost lives. After the Kavanaugh hearing, Pranjal organized a Panel of speakers to visit her school and shed light on women’s issue and inequality. Not only did she organize events, but she also created lesson plans on menstrual equity and sexual harassment to educate her high school community. All these movements aimed to motivate students to create change themselves. Watching her efforts gain traction demonstrates to Pranjal the impact of grassroots change.

“There is currently a group of students working to get our entire high school to wear red on menstrual hygiene day. It’s so rewarding to see how one person’s actions have the power to motivate others to join a cause! Grassroots and bottom-up organizing is the best way to see true change.”

Currently, Pranjal continues to use her voice to help others by writing about social justice and politics for Brown Girl Magazine, serving as Associate Director for GenZ Girl Gang, and furthering her own projects. Pranjal is travelling to Jaipur, India this summer to conduct research and build connections with community leaders who pursue social justice related work in the area. She wants to create change and uplift women in the Jaipur community, because as someone who was born in Jaipur and originates from there, she sees the disadvantages women face first hand. She hopes to someday create her own grassroots NGO in Jaipur that helps women realize their potential and purpose in the world.

Pranjal’s identity as an Indian immigrant and young woman has been the motivation behind her work for as long as she can remember. She hopes that through her story, other young people see that there is power in their past and that by letting their identity empower them, they can change the world.

Zehra Naqvi