I walked into the ancient hallway through the gates of a home that was nestled amidst the history seeking to speak about the famously named prophet of modern Andhra Pradesh born in Rajahmundry – Rao Bahadur Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu (16 April 1848 – 27 May 1919). The man who published an exclusive women’s journal to raise awareness against social evil practices against girl/women through his literature.
During the phase of my life where I am still being questioned for working in the area of gender equality, the visit to this historical home reassured me to hold on to the dream of setting people free. He lost his father at a very young age while his uncle held the responsibility of his education. After his matriculation he began his first job as a teacher in a village called Koringa. He got married at the age of 15 while his bride was still 9 at that time.
As he was a scholar in literature , he used words as his weapons to revolt against the suppressing customs around women. He is a literary activist who was the first person to have the Telugu novel published. Through his writings to various leaders one can gauge the energy he consumed from the unfair practices hailing in the Telugu society then. I was astonished by his unparalleled conviction for women education which also further became a prior reason for his established of school.
Kandukuri Veeresalingam Pantulu , published an exclusive magazine for women criticising the loop holes and evil practices against women in the society like early marriage, education for women, widow remarriage, Kanyasulakam which mean bride with a price and he also opposed marriage of old men with young girls. Viveka Vardhini was a journal for women education in 1887 and Satihita bodhini a monthly magazine for women were the ideas which laid foundation for a progression in relevance to even the 21st century.
To be a part of the beginning laid by him and for continuing to empower women , the visit to his ancestral home that displays his writings and an installation of the widow remarriage made a very deep impact on my conviction by adding the most bright pages of history in benefit of girls/ women to my life.
Written By Sahithi Divi as told by Konstantia Achilleos
Nestled in the beautiful Cyprus country, Konstantia Achilleos is a Scientist , Earthpreneur and also the activist host of Her Impact podcast and Founder – CEO at Oreen Cherie Blair Foundation Mentee Alumni from Cyprus. She is affected with an unmatched passion for protecting environment which drove her expertise to being an earthpreneur circling her efforts towards public health and environmental protection.
She is also working on reducing the gender gap in the field of science and break the universal stigma about women in science and technology. She has previously had the experience of working with private sector and also NGO space that sums up for her current direction of problem solving.
As a child she did not face the negative affects of gender gap but growing up to be a scientist started to give her the ends of how deeply gender is embedded in science. Konstantia quit her job at the peak moment where she realised that providing knowledge to people about environment on various levels will provide them a voice to save themselves and the environment at the same time.
She continues her wonderful work as a medical geologist while continuing to build impact through her podcast series called Her Impact measuring and creating content about various aspects of environmental and public safety alongside the gender equation.
Konstantia believes strongly that women must be empowered as they encore the inclusive compass of beheld power to substantiate the collective forces. If women do not have to face the critical inequality as the first step of making a career choice it is more ravishing to see the impact a woman can bring to the table. Normalising woman’s presence in the diverse structures is our primary goal. Through her work she is aligning with goal number 3 , 5 , 7, 13,14,15 of Sustainable Development Goals of United Nations. Her projects also include sustainable tourism including nature conserving trails.
She says that leaving a place is the hardest thing to let go but contemplates with what comes along. Her relationship with India is limited as of now but I am looking forward to her in India and introduce you to my community here. Konstantia defines India as a continuously emerging democracy and love as the centre of the universe.
Holding to my surreal heart filled with astonishment of marking the most important milestone of moving to Rajahmundry from Hyderabad and many other places that directed me to land here so that I can unfold the actions of my dream. After all the introspection for years of measuring the impact of my work, I finally started to feel uncertain about where I want to be. Who I am ? Where do I belong ? Begins with a strong inclination to smaller towns with green shields of fertile farms and the dedicated smiling lives behind it. I often felt the need to look for more than the beauty ridden cultural Rajahmundry.
My journey has begun as a women right’s influencer and alongside the events came a deep realisation that held the secret of my inner joy. Migrating back to the roots where I was born was an opportunity for me to connect with the women farmers, florists, artisans, teachers, technicians and many more from the rural front of our country. Visiting Rajahmundry a couple of times in the last few years cultivated more meaning and direction to my dream of economic empowerment through equality.
Being born in Andhra Pradesh engages me personally with the people as it seems more like listening to my uncle , grandmother or a family member. As my father was transferred to north India as a part of his job, Andhra Pradesh remained my summer holiday home ; a place that indulged a million memories and people who hosted with a giant welcoming heart.
Urbanisation is not the solution for a country where the major share of population lives in the rural places. Development of smaller towns demands retainment of talent which needs infrastructure, investment and leadership development. Using concepts like design thinking I want to redefine the problems , create communities that promote sustainability, provide recognition to high performing women at the bottom of the pyramid, conduct events to preserve culture and provide a platform to local artisans through story writing and consulting projects under ImpactScientist.
With a mission on hand , a place definitively mine, force of people surrounding my belief and tucked in the rivers of serenity. Rajahmundry and I have chosen each other for amplifying the potential behind unlocking women to equal resources and participation.