Sejal Hathi: Changing the World, Thousands of Girls at a Time

Filed under News Your World on Apr 16 12 by

Sejal Hathi

Sejal Hathi

The visionary social entrepreneur Sejal Hathi has been called many things. Innovative. Passionate. Confident. She is a U.S. Presidential Scholar and World Economic Forum “Global Shaper,” not to mention one of Newsweek/The Daily Beast’s “150 Women Who Shake the World.” The Yale undergrad and TEDWomen speaker, who has been recognized by CNN, ABC7, Glamour, Seventeen, ElleGirl, USA Today and the Boston Globe, has quickly made a name for herself and the international nonprofits she has founded.

One thing that is not often associated with Sejal Hathi is the term anorexic. Unfortunately, the once 15-year-old girl battled with this disease, which often stems from none other than low self-esteem. It was during her recovery that she realized she was not alone. Thousands of girls do not have confidence in their abilities. Right there and then, Sejal decided to make it her lifelong mission to empower these young and impressionable girls.

Sejal quickly became involved in various organizations that aligned with her mission. For instance, she facilitated partnerships with countries in Africa on behalf of Girls for a Change to start a program for victims of domestic violence. She soon realized that these disadvantaged women had “something deep, tangible, and worthwhile to offer,” yet lacked the resources, support, and knowledge to act. Sejal wished she could reverse these inequalities and foster a collaborative network of young girls around the world to form a “global sisterhood” with the same universal vision of self-respect and service. That is how San Francisco-based Girls Helping Girls (GHG)—the only global organization run completely by girls, for girls—was born. At its helm is Sejal as founder, president, and executive director.

By instilling self-esteem and confidence, GHG U.S. volunteers nurture, cultivate, and inspire girls in developing countries to launch their own social-change projects. They empower thousands of these impoverished girls in 20+ countries to create positive social and economic change by incubating entrepreneurial projects that address global issues such as promoting peace, eradicating poverty, increasing access to education, and improving health. Sejal herself best sums it up: “I created GHG because I wanted to reach the most marginal and most vulnerable girls and help them realize their inner voice by providing them with the knowledge, the tools, the support network, and the resources necessary to make their vision for the world a reality.”

And it doesn’t stop there. GHG fundraises to provide basic necessities, educational opportunities, and social-change workshops for these destitute girls. This organization does it all – from providing scholarships and school uniforms, to donating textbooks, chairs and desks, to raising money for sex trafficking victims. It even doles out loans to those looking to launch their own micro businesses in becoming financially self-sufficient.

If that’s not enough to keep Sejal busy, she’s also co-founder of the hybrid social enterprise girltank that is designed to empower a dynamic and fearless community of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs (YSEs) to take their ventures to the next level in making a significant impact. It’s essentially a natural progression following the work GHG does to help women launch an enterprise. Girltank is about seeing these ventures come to fruition in a meaningful way. Sejal coins it a “she lab” for female social entrepreneurship.

But at the end of the day, it is in fact the underprivileged girls themselves that Sejal looks up to: “The girls are so resilient and, every day, show that no matter the challenges that face us, we can all move forward. Seeing what they have to go through and yet seeing the goodness they still believe in, the dreams they still cherish, and the faith they show in the goodness of humanity is so moving and transformative.”

Sejal’s words of wisdom? “Never give up on your dreams—life is too short to stop believing in your boundless potential to achieve greatness…If you’re upset by something, start thinking about how you would like to see that problem changed, what solutions you think might work, and then start implementing them. Gather some of your friends, find some mentors, and start doing something. Anything you do, no matter how small, will make a difference and will open the door for other people to follow in your footsteps.”

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Soraya Eltomey
Soraya is a news contributor for The You Are Project, profiling fascinating young women such as the world-renowned rower Julia Immonen. Having previously served as Management Consultant at Consumer Reports and Co-Chairperson of Advertising Women of New York's Young Executives Committee, Soraya now spearheads PR initiatives for an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Tribeca.
  • Nancy Carvette

    Keep up the good work. I pray you and your organization will be a huge success and young women would realized how special they are.

  • Shirley Weber

    amazing how one young woman, not afraid to take action,
    changed so many lives. It all begins with the first step.