Ms. Shikha S. Bhattacharjee   
Fulbright-Nehru Project Title: "Women's Rights are Human Rights: the Role of Indian
Commissions in Advancing Social Change"
Field of Study: Public Administration
Home Institution in US: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Host Institution in India: Swayam, Kolkata, West Bengal  
Start date/Month in India: November 2013
Duration of grant: Nine months

Brief Bio:
In May 2013, Ms. Shikha Bhattacharjee completed a JD and an interdisciplinary Global Human RightsCertificate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she also held a Toll Public Interest Scholarship and a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. While at Penn Law, Ms. Bhattacharjee represented clients in immigration cases and international human rights projects through the Penn Law Transnational Legal Clinic, coordinated clinical collaboration between the Penn Law Child Advocacy Clinic and the Penn Youth and Family Trauma Clinic, and represented clients in civil proceedings in the Penn Law Civil Practice Clinic. Ms. Bhattacharjee was also an associate editor of Penn Law's Journal of Law and Social Change, a project manager for the Penn Law International Human Rights Advocates and a program coordinator for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project. After her first year as a law student, Ms. Bhattacharjee returned to West Bengal as a Penn Law International Human Rights Fellow to work with Swayam, a Kolkata-based organization working to end violence against women. Ms. Bhattacharjee spent last summer at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she worked in the International Human Rights docket.One of Ms. Bhattacharjee's recent articles, "Distant Silences and Default Judgments: Access to Justice for Transnationally Abandoned Women," appeared in Penn Law's Journal of Law and Social Change (2013).

Prior to law school, Ms. Bhattacharjee spent three years with the Yale Child Study Center in the Intensive, In-Home Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Service as a counselor to youth at risk of psychiatric hospitalization and involved in the juvenile justice system. Ms. Bhattacharjee also worked for six months on the Reproductive Rights Campaign for Human Rights Law Network in West Bengal.

For her Fulbright project Ms. Bhattacharjee will consider the role of India's National Commission for Women, Human Rights Commission, and state-level commissions in advancing human rights for women. These commissions strive to uphold India's commitment to human rightsby facilitating dialogue between the government and civil society, creating accountability for rights abuses and supporting institutions working to advance human rights. Studying India's commissions in the context of advocacy by women's rights organizationsprovides a unique opportunity to understand the role of commissions in advancingsocial change. The challenges and best practices illuminated from this standpoint have the potential to inform advocacy strategies in India and internationally.