At Crossbow: 2,300 miles, 260 days, 1 billion steps for a safer nation for women

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With the Crossbow app, Srishti Bakshi is out to make the country a safer place for women

Come September 15, and Srishti Bakshi will embark on a journey across the length of the country to raise awareness about women's safety in India.

Tired of hearing that India was not a safe country for women, Srishti decided to change the status quo and instill in young girls the idea that they can be change makers.

“My big dream right now is to collect one billion steps from the whole country to make India a safer country for women,” Srishti, Founder of Crossbow Project, says.

Srishti is an Empower Women Champion for Change 2016-2017. UN Women's Empower Women is dedicated to empowering women to achieve their full economic potential by inspiring both women and men to become advocates, changemakers, and leaders in their community. She will walk a distance of over 2,300 miles over 260 days, starting from Kanyakumari in the South to Srinagar in the North. Those who join in can clock the number of steps they take on the Crossbow app which will unlock funds from donors for organisations working towards women's rights.

Planting the seed

Shristi had her first brush with what women face on an everyday basis when she moved to Mumbai with her sister. Her father was an army man, and she was raised cocooned within the safety of cantonments. Mumbai provided a stark contrast, where eve teasing and groping was a common feature in public transport.

Women tend to develop a coping mechanism against the experiences they undergo. Through her project, Srishti aims to help people understand that violence against women, and gender bias is not something that should be coped with but needs to be fought actively.

Beginning of the movement: collecting a billion steps

What initially started out as a project, has now become a widespread movement as the potential of Crossbow gained recognition.

Armed with this recognition, Srishti decided to make it a 'Digital World Movement' to connect with people from different parts of the country on her walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

Social media will be the main channel Srishti plans to use to get people on board. Through the platform, a person in any part of India can contribute to the movement through the steps taken daily.

With an aim to collect one billion steps from the entire nation by the end of her journey, Srishti aims to create a better future for girls.

 

The immediate impact

Conversations are a powerful medium to create impact, and often lead a change in one’s mindset. On the importance of getting a conversation going, Srishti opines, “I have conversations with girls who approach me after the workshops and try to identify their strength through me.”

The plan, the actions, and reactions

Through Crossbow, Srishti hopes to bring change with the following steps.

  • Conducting innovative workshops on financial and digital literacy to empower women:

This is a strategy put forth by United Nations Women. There exists a myth that one needs to know English in order to be empowered. Srishti cites the example of Vichitra, who is illiterate. She was married at 14, had her first child at 16, and was a victim of domestic violence. Having sought help from an agent she was sent to Hong Kong and found employment in a good household. She was given a smartphone by the employer who also taught her how to use WhatsApp and YouTube. She learned Thai cooking and baking by watching videos online. Today, she is a much sought after Thai cook and earns a handsome salary.

She was illiterate but is empowered today.

Srishti feels storytelling is a powerful a tool to create a direct impact, rather than just educating village girls about the importance of internet. The next step is to introduce them to Google and the internet following the UN module and follow it with

  • Documenting stories through shooting a documentary feature film.
  • Building an extensive volunteer network of on-ground change-makers who will continue the mission.

Srishti recalls receiving a range of reactions to her efforts: from the believers to the sceptics. She, however, is confident the non-believers will become believers once she hits the road.

Going strong

For the last one year, Srishti has been training for her journey, building her core strength. She started with Crossfit, cardio, lifting weights and can lift up to 100 kg today.

Here’s how to be an arrow of change

A team of 'arrows' will march to fight violence against women, educate to end the culture of abuse one village, city, town, metro at a time.

CrossBow is also collecting funds through crowdfunding through Milaap to organise the 260-day march.

Everyone can join Srishti's steps. Come be a champion of change.

 

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