Students Rebuild Award Winner Krishna Mondal

Posted on December 17, 2013, by Half the Sky Movement

Krishna Mondal is a 31-year-old from Kalighat, India, and one of five young women who won the Students Rebuild Award. Krishna and the other women from Somaliland, Kenya, Cambodia and Sierra Leone each received $10,000 to continue helping women and girls in their communities. Krishna won the award for her work with New Light to counteract the cycle of forced prostitution in Kolkata, India.

Krishna’s upbringing motivated her to fight for the rights of women and to save young girls from a life of prostitution. While Krishna was still in her mother’s womb, her father was stabbed to death by a robber. Krishna’s mother was a left with a five-year-old son and a daughter on the way. With no one to turn to for help, her mother was forced into prostitution. “If the story of the beginning of my life does not motivate me to fight for the rights of women and saving of young girls –– if this is not my mission in life –– I shall not be worth my salt,” said Krishna.

Students Rebuild award winner Krishna Mondal

Krishna’s mother did not have a home so she would work in other people’s houses and often slept on an open terrace. That same terrace is where New Light is now situated. Krishna often did not have a place to sleep either. Her mother’s customers would touch her and pull on her legs and arms as early as age eight. “I don’t want anyone to face such things anymore. That is why New Light was formed.”

Along with Urmi Basu, Krishna founded New Light, an organization featured in the film Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. New Light has been operating since 2000 and provides a safe shelter, educational opportunities, and recreational facilities for the children of local sex workers, particularly the daughters. When New Light first began, the women looked after ten children and operated from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thirteen years later, the group now looks after 150 kids and is a 24-hour daycare.

Watch Krishna speak about her work with New Light here.

The Students Rebuild Awards featuring Half the Sky Movement recognized and celebrated five young women working to end the oppression of women and girls in their communities. Through a $10,000 prize ($50,000 total), these awards elevated the game changers who often go unrecognized, fighting bravely to improve life conditions for their peers. Learn more at