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Indian woman spends day as British High Commissioner

Shreya got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the life of a diplomat and saw the UK-India partnership in action. 

The British High Commission in New Delhi has organised the ‘High Commissioner for a Day’ competition every year since 2017, to celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child (11 October). The UK is committed to engaging with girls and shifting our power to them as change makers and future leaders. Protecting and promoting freedoms for women and girls in the UK and around the world is the right and smart thing to do; it is integral to creating resilient economies and strong, free societies.

This year’s winning entry was chosen from a pool of more than 180 applications from talented young women around the country. Shreya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and currently teaches in a government school in Mumbai as a Teach for India fellow. She is passionate about education and child psychology. Shreya’s trip to Delhi and stay was made possible through the kind contribution of partners Vistara airline and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

Shreya Dharmarajan, High Commissioner for the Day, said:

Spending a day as the British High Commissioner to India was an incredibly enlightening, enriching, and fulfilling experience. I had the opportunity to interact with and learn from inspiring exemplars of women’s leadership in wide-ranging fields. I was fortunate enough to be a part of lively discussions about India’s efforts toward further achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

I witnessed first-hand the wonders of the India-UK ASPIRE Programme in helping the development of electric vehicles in India and was honoured to speak with the Principle Scientific Adviser. I have brought back with me life-long learning about gender equality, wholesome education, and the wider scope of the SDGs. This experience has instilled in me a newfound confidence and motivation, and I look forward to putting all my learnings to fruitful use as a young woman in the field of education.

Alex Ellis, Deputy High Commissioner for the Day (on other days, High Commissioner to India) said:

It was fantastic to follow Shreya for the day, her conversations from the role of young women in tackling global challenges to the UK-India partnership on science, technology and innovation.

The High Commissioner for a Day competition is a great reminder for us all on the potential of a world with gender equality. When women rise, we all rise.

As the UK’s top diplomat in India, Shreya experienced an exciting range of activities over the course of a fully-packed day. She led discussions at the United Nations office in New Delhi on advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); spoke to one of this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists about their innovative initiatives to tackle global environmental challenges; engaged with the inspiring women leaders of the Chevening SheLeads programme; and met Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India Professor Ajay Sood, to review plans to bolster UK-India research collaboration following the G20 Summit.

As High Commissioner for the Day, Shreya also launched a new report on electric vehicle charging infrastructure with the Delhi Transport Department, as part of the  Accelerating Smart Power and Renewable Energy in India (ASPIRE) bilateral technical assistance programme.

Further information

  • download free-to-use images of Shreya’s day as High Commissioner

  • Shreya Dharmarajan was announced ‘High Commissioner for a Day’ on 26 September. Applicants for this year’s competition were invited to submit a 1-minute video answering the question: ‘How can young people help lead the way in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?’ Shreya’s winning entry

  • the ‘High Commissioner for a Day’ competition, organised annually since 2017 celebrates the International Day of the Girl Child (11 October). The competition is an opportunity to provide a platform to young women to raise awareness about girls’ rights and highlight the importance of women in leadership roles

  • the International Day of the Girl is also being celebrated at the UK’s diplomatic missions in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, and Chennai, where one young woman had the opportunity to be the ‘British Deputy High Commissioner for a Day’

  • in March, the UK announced a new global Women and Girls Strategy to help tackle gender inequality across the globe. The strategy sets out three goals: to enable the conversation, lead by example, and lead through knowledge

  • the UK and India are working together to help ensure women and girls can reach their full potential. This includes work on promoting women’s leadership through the ‘Pledge for Progress’ campaign that encourages taking practical steps to tackle gender challenges. The campaign was launched in 2020 and have over 130 signatories spanning government, business, and civil society

  • the Chevening SheLeads project was a capacity building programme for aspiring women leaders launched in 2020-21 with support from Chevening Alumni Project Fund (CAPF). It provided nearly 190 women from across India a platform to build and hone skills in politics in service of local communities

  • the Accelerating Smart Power and Renewable Energy in India (ASPIRE) is a bilateral technical assistance programme launched by the UK Government in partnership with India’s Ministry of Power and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. This programme supports the Climate pillar under the 2030 Roadmap. A key area of focus under ASPIRE is to support the e-mobility transition in India

For media queries, contact:

David Russell, Head of Communications

Press and Communications, British High Commission,

Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021. Tel: 24192100

Media queries: [email protected]

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