Building a Network of Citizen Journalists
Gold Award Girl Scout Pranjal Jain moved to Long Island in the middle of the third grade.
“I did not fit in right away,” she says. “I experienced cyberbullying and barely had any friends. It took two years to feel like I belonged.”
In the end, what made a difference for her was becoming a Girl Scout.
“I joined toward the end of fifth grade, and my troop was small and diverse, and the girls were all a year older than me. We fostered real sisterhood, and our troop leader was great. I credit so much of who I am today to my troop leader.”
In sixth grade, Pranjal did her Silver Award project on cyberbullying. With support from her troop leader, who encouraged her to explore the power of community-based organizing, Pranjal developed a Gold Award project around social awareness.
“I created a social justice club on campus that awoke a lot of people’s consciousness,” she says. “There were 1,000 people in my high school, and we had a board of 10 to 15 people, but we had hundreds of people at our rallies and vigils.”
First up: the social justice club took a stand on diversity.
“We gave people a platform to feel like their voices were celebrated. For example, we had a dance club in our school and they performed, and the poetry club wrote a poem. We passed out fuchsia-colored safety pins—which stand for diversity—with a pledge about diversity and acceptance,” Pranjal explains.
“My junior year, we held a vigil for the survivors of the Parkland shooting. My senior year, I created a curriculum around menstrual equity and distributed it to the health classrooms.”
Ever since then, Pranjal—who is now a sophomore at Cornell, studying industrial and labor relations—has focused on community building and creating a global take on the sisterhood she enjoyed as a Girl Scout.
From there, her work has centered on community building. The summer before she started college, she traveled to Jaipur, India, to visit relatives and explore the community there.
“I interviewed the women who live there and heard their stories. And I learned that I thought I didn’t come from power because of colonization. I was able to discover my power, my land, my ancestors, and where I am from storytelling.”
Pranjal turned that experience into the beginning of the international nonprofit organization she formed, Global Girlhood, which she launched in December 2019 with a team of women who are all part of Generation Z.
“It is my love letter to the world,” she says. “We follow a journalism structure and ask women to go into their community and interview women who could be mentors and role models. Then we share [their stories], and we ask people to react to them. We publish the stories across our platforms to disrupt what we see and what usually gets people’s attention when they are scrolling.”
“I think Gen Z is pioneering collaboration over competition,” she says. Millennial and Gen X [women] had ingrained in them that it’s hard for women to collaborate, and we reject that and foster communal learning and living. I also think this social media power is something that, as part of Gen Z, I have been able to tap into at a youth-led level.”
For Pranjal, social media is lifting social and geographic barriers that would have prevented communication for women of previous generations.
“I think social media has fostered a lot more globalization than people had seen in the past. Global citizenship means knowing we have responsibilities to each other.”
She believes the future can be even brighter for so many people because of the access that social media platforms offer to communication and information.
“We’re trying to launch an international leadership development hub,” she says proudly. “And it will be the first of its kind to be youth centered and youth led.”