India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
October 11, 2017

Meet 22-Year-Old Shweta Katti, A Girl From Kamathipura Who Was Consul General Of Canada For A Day

Text by Sadaf Shaikh. Photography by Prateek Patel

On the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child, we spoke to the precocious girl about her inspiring life story

It was a regular day at the office when 22-year-old Shweta Katti waltzed in with her million-dollar smile and resolute persona accompanied by Leonard Reil, Consul of Political/Economic and Public Affairs for Canada. Mr. Reil nonchalantly introduced her as Consul General of Canada and as she beamed knowingly, we knew that an interesting tale was about to unravel; a story that would stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Shweta was born and raised in Kamathipura, one of Asia’s most infamous red-light areas. She was the oldest of three daughters and grew up in a brothel until the age of 16. In 2012, she joined Kranti, an NGO that empowers girls from Mumbai’s red-light areas to become agents of social change. Due to her work for marginalised girls, Shweta was included in Newsweek’s 25-Under-25 Women to Watch list in 2013. She also received a full scholarship from Bard College, becoming the first girl from an Indian red-light area to study abroad. In 2014, she was the recipient of many awards, including the UN Youth Courage Award. She studied for two years at Bard and also won a full scholarship to Semester at Sea in 2015.

As she spoke about the plight of the girl child in India with precocious insight, our CEO Pallavi Kanchan and Features Editor Shirin Mehta proferred their own opinions on how India may have made all kinds of technological advances but had failed to nurture and provide protection to little girls. Shweta left us with an inspiring message to commemorate the day which goes: “It has been an empowering day for me. I am grateful and impressed that the Canadian consulate took this initiative to promote girl empowerment and gave me the chance to represent girl power for a day. I’ve met different people today to discuss the situation of the girl child in the country and how it’s a subject that deserves our utmost attention. I grew up in Kamathipura, which is Asia’s second largest red-light district and through Kranti, an organisation that empowers girls from Mumbai’s red-light areas, I became the first girl to study abroad and got a full scholarship to Bard college. Basically, what I want to tell every girl is that nothing is impossible. If a girl like me, coming from a Marathi-medium school, could study in New York and become Consul General for a day, every girl can do anything she sets her mind to. There are people who will always be there to pull you down but you have to claim your own space. It’s in your hands and you have to let your power shine through. I’m very proud to be a girl and there’s a certain kind of beauty that courses through my veins because of it. I want girls to know that they are beautiful and have immense power that only needs to be channelled correctly.”

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