A 20-year-old engineering student from Jaipur today donned the hat of Canadian High Commissioner to India for a day, holding parleys with top diplomats from other countries on gender equality.
Medha Mishra, who won a video competition conducted by the High Commission of Canada to win the “once in a lifetime opportunity”, chaired a delegation on girls rights and flagged off a run for ‘gender equality’ as part of the mission’s activities to mark ‘International Day of the Girl Child’ on October 11.
As the day drew to an end, Medha, who usually spends her day flipping through pages of coding and geometrical lines, was revelling in what she described was a “tough job”.
“It was basically emulating what a High Commissioner’s day is like and honestly, it is quite a tough job. I got to attend a session with a few diplomats that included the Mexican Ambassador and Deputy Ambassadors from Canada, South Africa and Australia. I am glad that I got a chance to do this, given my current skills,” she said.
The contest she won required women from across the country to explain in a video, “Why girls’ rights are important and what can be done to achieve greater gender equality.”
Medha participated in several public events to create awareness about the importance of girls’ rights including the run along Shanti Path with staff from several foreign missions in the city and students and volunteers.
“I learnt that it does not take as much effort as it seems to raise awareness,” she said.
A “staunch feminist”, Medha has very strong views on the issue of gender equality.
According to her, with half the population of the world being women, it is an issue that should be taken up globally.
“I think it should bother us that we are okay with the metaphor of ‘a glass ceiling and a sticky floor’. That is something that globally as a society we should be working to tackle,” she said.
Medha was joined by Jess Dutton, Deputy High Commissioner of Canada to India, for a ‘chat with diplomats’ session at IILM Institute for Higher Education to discuss the issue of women in leadership with management students.
Mexican Ambassador Melba Pria; Ambassador of Finland Nina Vaskunlahti; Ambassador of the United States Richard Verma; Deputy High Commissioner of South Africa Ben Joubert and Australian Deputy High Commissioner Chris Elstoft were also part of the event.
“We are proud to collaborate with diplomats from several nations and with officials and the people of India to promote the importance of girls’ rights.
“In Canada, we strongly feel that gender equality is not only a human rights issue, but an essential component of sustainable development, social justice, peace and security,” Dutton said.
Medha, who came across the post for the contest on the High Commission’s Facebook page, participated without expecting to win, but after her experience she says she would not mind helming the post of a top diplomat.
“If I am fortunate and skilled enough to clear the Indian Civil Services or the Foreign Services, for sure yes, I would want to be the High Commissioner some day,” she said.