Indian American inventor and writer Gitanjali Rao, 17, honored by White House as a Change Leader


Indian American inventor and writer Gitanjali Rao and 14 other young women leaders have been honored by First Lady Jill Biden for leading change and shaping a brighter future in their communities across the country. Marking the International Day of the Girl on Wednesday, 17-year-old Rao was honoured at the first-ever “Girls Leading Change” celebration at the White House to recognize the efforts of young women in strengthening the country for generations.

“It is my honor to celebrate this exceptional group of “Girls Leading Change” at the White House,” Jill Biden, an educator for more than 30 years, said in a White House release.

“These young women are protecting and preserving the earth, writing and sharing stories that change minds, and turning their pain into purpose. Together, they represent the potential of young people across the country, and it is my hope that others can learn from the power of their innovation, strength, and hope,” she said.

A freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rao is a scientist and inventor whose groundbreaking lead contamination detection tool won her an EPA Presidential Award and America’s Top Young Scientist by Discovery Education/3M. She was only 11 years old at the time.

Her book, ‘Young Innovator’s Guide to STEM’, which offers a prescriptive five-step innovation process, is used as a STEM curriculum globally in selected schools.

“Rao is committed to not only continuing her career as a scientist and inventor, but expanding her STEM education initiative, which has already touched more than 80,000 elementary, middle, and high school students,” the White House release said.

The 15 young women leaders were selected by the White House Gender Policy Council.

The Biden-Harris administration has announced a series of new actions that build on the admin’s investment in young people and expand opportunities for women and girls at home and abroad.

This includes, advancing girls’ education globally via USAID; promoting STEM skills and girls’ leadership; empowering girls to shape the future of AI; promoting efforts to end child marriage globally; addressing girls’ risk of HIV/AIDS; reducing risk for girls in the juvenile justice system, and many more.

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