Women as Leaders and Achievers: Laying Foundations for a Successful Life

MH envisions a world where women will assume leadership roles in all spheres of life. It aims to sustain its distinguished legacy of having produced alumnae who ventured forth as pioneers to explore uncharted territories and became extraordinary leaders. MH students consider themselves as torchbearers. Meritorious, passionate and motivated, they want an equal opportunity to be able to lead from the front. Courageous, compassionate and discerning, they want to contribute to the task of nation building and social change. Cognizant that women often do not get an equal opportunity to fulfil their dreams, the college aims to help them transcend as also overcome the existing social challenges. It aims to help students set action oriented goals, understand gender specific barriers and explore early their potential for leadership. Viewing each individual student as special, it aims to launch her on a unique career path, helping her build a professionally and personally fulfilling life.

The demographic profile of the college has in recent years undergone radical changes. A large number of students are from remote areas. Several are from economically underprivileged families and first generation learners. They enter the college with some diffidence and a sense of awe. They seek to redefine their own identity by adopting that of the college. Allured by the profile of the college and having met the rigorous standards of eligibility criteria, they have high expectations from the college. Highly motivated and aspiring, they are the face of new India, raring to give wings to their dreams. Fired by idealism and their journey thus far, they remain focused, perseverant and committed to doing something for society and for the country. Very quickly students understand the importance of building a strong portfolio of achievements through participation in extramural activities. Strongly committed to inclusive education and sensitive to challenges that diversity poses, in a culturally sensitive way the college provides a level playing field and opportunities for all round growth to all students.

Learning to Lead

MH is on the path of redefining leadership. There are several milestones on the journey to success.

  • The curriculum provides the starting point for initiating students into the mainstream of university education. Effective teaching-learning in the classroom equips them with domain-specific knowledge. It is important to help all students to successfully negotiate the rough terrain of rigorous academics as this imparts confidence, enhances self image and strengthens resolve to set higher goals. This is accomplished through discussions, debates, individualized mentoring, innovative and participatory teaching-learning practices. Challenging assignments encourage critical thinking and transformative learning. Projects help in establishing the connection between the world of knowledge and the realm of praxis. Classroom presentations promote communication skills. Encouraged to improvise, adapt, innovate and create, the students are trained to realise their full potential.
  • Collaborative learning with added focus on integrating all sections of student community and encouraging them to excel in a variety of domains is the driving force of this practice. Facilitated by faculty, students take charge of designing and organizing curricular enrichment activities such as seminars, workshops and conferences on incisive themes. This entails identifying and inviting distinguished guest speakers. The ensuing interactions are intellectually stimulating and elevating. In addition to expanding the knowledge horizon, these also provide students a preview into the world of higher academia; diverse sectors and work places. The thematic department festivals also go beyond the curriculum to explore new ideas and emerging trends. Exposure to local, national and global perspectives contributes to both scholarship and leadership qualities.
  • Another important milestone is achieved through active engagement with societies for co-curricular and extracurricular activities. These thrive on institutional legacy and roll along on their own momentum with student executives in the lead. It is here that the leadership skills come to the fore. Student teams learn to work together, set goals, develop action plans, network with peer groups, not just within the college but at other institutions across the country and across the world. These student leagues constitute a micro cosmos that is surcharged with idealism, passionate convictions, and vibrant energy. The whirlpool of activity draws the entire student populace and inspires each one to contribute to the creative process. The magnitude of events planned and their intellectual and cultural scope is often too big for an individual but within easy reach of the community. Organizing or participating in mega events drives all society members to develop the stamina as they practice and work round the clock, macro plan and micro detail, launch major publicity drives, network, raise funds, look at all aspects of management. Having created a rock solid foundation and requisite scaffolding, the college allows students sufficient autonomy and latitude to take risks. Leadership is a transformative process linked with problem solving and learning to negotiate new terrains. Students get ample opportunities to stride over unfamiliar and unforeseen situations. Regular brainstorming meetings, round table discussions and mentoring sessions with the Principal and faculty members ensure that all events meet the high standards expected of the college. Freedom with responsibility and accountability; and public probity become the underpinning hallmark.
  • An important milestone is feeling empowered as a woman and believing that there are no barriers; sky is indeed the limit. Students yearn for a future where women shape their own destinies, and play an equal role in the decision-making process. When the cognitive skills and creative expression is sharp, when interpersonal and organizational skills have been honed, students are ready to take off. When the environment is inclusive and sensitive, however diverse their backgrounds, all students begin to experience transformative change. The college directly addresses the issues of gender and social change. Women Development Cell plays a critical role as it creates a framework for growth and through reflective discussions, helps students adopt the vocabulary of the community of practice. Workshops on Women and Law, Consumer Rights, Civil Defence, Self Defence, Living Values and Entrepreneurship are seen as essential for enhancing life skills. These focus on awareness, capacity building and advocacy. The students' enhanced access to law, their ability to report on any form of violence or crime against them and their decrease of inhibitions in approaching agencies like the Internal Complaints Committee, Police, Judiciary and the Consumer Courts, etc. are evidence of success. Aware of their rights and constitutional guarantees, students become responsible citizens. They also become peer educators. Indeed, the students and faculty of Miranda House have been frontrunners in the global campaigns on gender specific issues.
  • The college recognises the importance of community outreach programmes and development of entrepreneurial skills among students as a part of its goal of creating leaders of tomorrow. The college chapter of Enactus provides the students a platform to combine entrepreneurship with social responsibility. In doing so, the college aspires to establish a link between students and women artisans and produce job creators as also empower the marginalised communities.

Evidence of Success

MH is counted amongst the top academic institutions of national eminence that are also globally recognized. It is a niche college that is beyond competition because of its unique approach to education. The institution nurtures talent in motion and encourages the young students to explore uncharted territories. It provides a platform and an environment that helps them move forward and focus on their own authentic contribution.

The alumnae list is extremely distinguished and includes well recognised names such as Sheila Dikshit, Brinda Karat, Jaya Jaitley, Meira Kumar, Romila Thapar, Anita Desai, Sayeeda Hameed, Anjolie Ela Menon, Mira Nair, Nandita Das, Shovana Narayan, Charu Sija Mathur, and Bina Agarwal. Many have received the Padma Awards, the top awards of the country. This unusual spark of leadership and its commitment to creating an egalitarian society, democratic values, and public good is a distinctive characteristic of MH.

It is a measure of sustained excellence over seven decades that the college continues to produce women of substance who are pioneers, experiment with cutting edge of contemporary thought and creative expression, and are counted amongst the top achievers in their chosen field of enterprise. The alumnae today exemplify the contemporary trend of disruptive leadership. They reflect the college's commitment to paradigmatic change; fostering a culture of game-changing innovations; generating new ideas and executing new solutions. Small Startups to Global Corporations which challenge conventional wisdom and established models have been created by alumnae like Prachi Garg of ghoomophiro.com; Anshulika Dubey, an entrepreneur who has ventured into crowd funding of creative projects through her Startup Wishberry. Jugnu Jain a molecular geneticisit and cell biologist with Ph.D. from Cambridge University and extensive post doctoral work at Harvard University has steered multiple drug discovery projects; with more than 20 patents to her credit, she returned to India to set up Sapien Biosciences, a company that works towards genetically personalized medicine. Jayanthi Kuru-Utumpala, a student from Sri Lanka holds a very important portfolio in CARE, Sri Lanka and has done extensive work in the field of women's rights. She has scaled Mt. ImjaTse, Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kinabalu and recently created history as the first Sri Lankan to conquer the summit of Mt. Everest. Sugandha Munshi is a gender specialist who works with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Bihar. She has coined the term Kisan Sakhi to give recognition to invisible women farmers. She is recipient of the Aadhi Abadi - 8th Women Achievers Award 2016 for her work on gender equity.