I am Generation Equality: Nidhi Mayurika, young innovator and space enthusiast

Billions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.


I am Generation Equality
Nidhi Mayurik. Photo: AKNR Chandra Sekhar
Nidhi Mayurik. Photo: AKNR Chandra Sekhar

I am Generation Equality because…

Three actions you can take to promote gender equality:

  • Make room for open and honest inter-generational conversations about how to create an equal future.
  • Learn to identify and challenge regressive social and gender norms.
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  • Support girls and young women to learn about space science. Find out more about our latest project with SSERD

“I believe creating an equal future means educating the generations old and new to examine and challenge social norms [that perpetuate inequality].

Aiming for the sky and how it all began…

I started studying Astrobiology when I was 11 years old.

I was fascinated by the vastness of the universe and wanted to know if life could exist everywhere. I started participating in the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest in 2016.

My first entry was Saikatam, which translates tohome away from home’ in Sanskrit, a three-layered space colony design for human settlement. In the subsequent years, I submitted two more projects for the contest – Soham (meaning, ‘the act of identifying oneself with the universe’ in Sanskrit), which was a space colony designed to launch satellites, and project Swastikam, (meaning, ‘a place for creation’ in Sanskrit), designed for synthetically created organisms to adapt and evolve in a new ecosystem.

All three entries won the first prize, which further fueled my interest in science.

I’ve always looked up to scientists like APJ Abdul Kalam, Bhaskar Rao and Stephen Hawking, and Dr. TK Anuradha, drawing inspiration from their lives and their work. However, it has been my family, who encouraged me, kept me on track, supported me and created a space for me to maintain my curiosity and ambition in this field.

Encouraging more girls to join STEM fields…

It’s great that women and girls are being encouraged to enter the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), but school curricula need to change so that we can teach young people to think scientifically.

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“Creating an equal future means educating the generations old and new”

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Introducing young children, especially girls, to topics like robotics, computer programming and technology from an early age will help build their interest in pursuing careers in the Sciences. Support from parents is also vital.

Learning and building entrepreneurial skills, along with STEM education can open up more opportunities for women and girls, such as in the field of Space Economy.

No matter how progressive a society is, we all have traditions that we follow, and we form new norms.

We need to change how young girls see women; divert the conversations from the ideal standards of beauty and marriage, so that young girls grow up knowing that they have value beyond their physical attributes. We need gender-sensitive advertisements, literature that portray strong female characters, and movies, TV shows and plays that show women in diverse roles.

I am optimistic that we’re headed in the right direction and that change is coming.”

Nidhi Mayurika is a 17-year-old student from Bangalore, India, who is a three-time winner of the NASA Ames Space Settlement Contest. Nidhi is a space enthusiast and wants to create awareness about climate action using a scientific approach. She is part of a student programme and a team leader with the Society for Space Education, Research and Development (SSERD), an International organization dedicated to promoting Space Science. UN Women India works with youth leaders and organizations like SSERD under its flagship campaign, Generation Equality. UN Women spoke with Nidhi on the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child (11 October), to highlight the voices of our digital generation, girls who aspire to be future leaders in science, technology and innovation.