As a child growing up in India, Gulika Reddy ’16 LL.M. knew at a young age that she wanted to challenge the social attitudes she witnessed around her about women and gender roles.
When it came time to select a career, Reddy chose to pursue law as an avenue to learn about, and ultimately address, systemic problems, such as gender inequality and violence against women. After completing a two-year fellowship with the human rights organization International Bridges to Justice, she came to Columbia Law School under the Human Rights LL.M. Fellowship to gain advanced legal training. The interdisciplinary approaches and comparative legal perspectives she is learning at the Law School will help Reddy effect social change in a more comprehensive and effective manner, she says.
“Columbia has allowed me to be a part of a community of like-minded individuals who have faced different sets of obstacles and are committed to building collaborative networks for social change,” Reddy says. “It also creates an inspiring and energizing space that is crucial while trying to effect change.”
In 2014, Reddy founded a nonprofit organization called Schools of Equality, designed to shift social attitudes of youth in various cities and villages in south India from perpetuating gender-based violence and other injustices. At the same time, she worked on gender-based violence cases and was a legal consultant for the National Law School of India University’s Centre for Child and the Law in Bangalore. Reddy’s efforts led to her being named a 2014–15 Chennai curator of the Global Shapers Community, which is part of a World Economic Forum initiative that recognizes young people with exceptional achievements and potential.
The Law School’s emphasis on utilizing legal skills as a way to engage in social justice has further solidified Reddy’s desire to continue fighting for women’s rights when she returns to India.
“If I see a gap, I view it as an opportunity—not as a challenge,” she says. “I’m constantly hopeful that something is going to change and there is something we can collectively do to make positive progress.”