On 7 March, in the run-up to International Women’s Day, Change.org India organised an event called ‘Found My Voice’ to create a community of women changemakers who can draw support from each other. The event, in partnership with The Quint’s ‘Me, The Change’ campaign, was held at Christ (Deemed to be University) in Bengaluru. The event was a part of Change.org’s initiative, ‘She Creates Change.’ The year-long programme plans to provide support and training to 30 women and help them become a part of the community of women campaigners.
Chinmayi Sripada on #MeToo
Among those invited to be speakers at the event were singer Chinmayi Sripada, who has been at the vanguard of the #MeToo movement in Tamil Nadu after she called out National Award-winning lyricist Vairamuthu for sexual harassment.
Sripada spoke on where the #MeToo movement is headed and how to empower women. “In all these months, I have been questioned time and again by people on social media and press. Not one of them have gone and asked Mr Vairamuthu the same type of questions. That is his privilege,” she said at the event.
“Yes, we have named our predators and yes nothing happens to them but where to from here?” she asked at the event.
She also said that there was a need to look more at a lasting solution and the end result would be when more women are in positions of power.
Speaking to The Quint, she said, “I am still in a position where people are still listening to me, so I would like to understand how we can take this forward. Yes, we have named our predators. Yes, nothing happens to them. Yes, we have lost work. But where to from here?”
Water Conservation and Disability-Rights
Changemaker Garvita Gulhati was also among those present at the event. Gulhati, won the title of ‘Global Changemaker’, which is awarded by a youth programme of the same name in Zurich, Switzerland. She is also the only Indian among 60 youngsters from across the globe to win this title from nearly 44,000 applications received in 2018. At the event, she spoke about her plan to conserve water.
Watch The Quint’s video with the young achiever below.
Disability rights activist Sonali Gupta was also present at the event. Gupta was diagnosed with limb-girdle-muscular dystrophy five years ago, which resulted in limited use of her legs.
For Gupta, basic mobility is a challenge, which is the reason she took up mobility for the disabled as a cause. At the event, she spoke about her fight for accessibility.
A Petition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
Mariam Rauf, who hails from Kottayam in Kerala, spoke about how she broke away from her trauma of being abused as a child. Today, Rauf is a child safety educator and runs a campaign on Change.org to make Personal Safety Education (PSE) compulsory in all Kerala schools. As a part of ‘Me, the Change’ campaign, The Quint had reported on Rauf’s petition and her struggle.
Watch The Quint’s video with Rauf below.
Also present at the event was Pranay Manjari Samal from Odisha, who faced many challenges from her in-laws when she tried to financially support her parents. “Taking care of your father is not your responsibility, it is your brother’s,” was what she was told. Today, she has a campaign with over 65,000 signatures on Change.org India for getting a bank to make ads where daughters care for their aged parents. Samal spoke about the challenges that a woman attempting to support her parents after marriage faced.
Speaking at the event, Durga Nandini, Senior Director of Change.org India said, “Like Chinmayi, tens of thousands of women are isolated for speaking out. They are punished for having an opinion. At Change.org, we believe that women should never feel alone. Through our flagship program called “She Creates Change” we are building a community of women changemakers who can draw support from each other and join hands to create change.”