These 4 social reformers are fighting for women’s rights and gender equality
On September 14, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four men in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh.
The woman had gone to the farmland with her mother to collect some fodder, and never returned. She was found with a cut on her tongue and multiple injuries implying she might have been beaten badly. Two weeks later, she died in a Delhi hospital, leading to widespread outrage across the country.
Unfortunately, these kinds of crimes are not rare in the country.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), every 15 minutes, there is a rape reported in India. In 2019, a total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women was registered - an increase of 7.3 percent from 2018. Lack of education and gender sensitisation are some of the reasons that have been identified for these violent acts.
Well, several individuals have been at the forefront of spreading awareness with the intention of bringing about a positive societal shift. Their persistence and dedication towards the cause is already bearing fruit in various forms. SocialStory explores some of their journeys.
Image credit: Outlook
Kavita Krishnan is a feminist activist and a member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) and the Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA).
She began traversing the path of activism when she joined the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) to complete her master's and was later elected Joint Secretary of the Students' Union in 1995. From then on, there was no looking back.
When a 23-year-old paramedic student was gangraped and tortured in a moving bus in Delhi, Kavita was one of the first people to raise her voice and demand justice for the victim. With a view to bring about a transformation in space of women empowerment, she wrote a book, Fearless Freedom. The entire writing challenges the conventional mindset of restricting women from moving about and confining them to certain spaces.
Kavita’s fight for emancipation of women is not only inspiring but is also eliminating threats surrounding gender equality as a whole.
Image credit: Feministaa
Swarna Rajagopalan is a political scientist and an independent scholar and writer. She received her PhD in Political Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998.
Swarna is known for her bold writing on a slew of gender and human security-related topics. Her book, Women, Security, South Asia: A Clearing in the Thicket co-authored with Farah Faizal delves deep into the subject of women security by illustrating examples from history and corelating the same with present times. For instance, it throws light on Maldivian women trying to secure themselves in a community where marriage and divorce are both easy and Afghani women struggling to survive in Peshawar's refugee camps.
Swarna also started a non-governmental organisation, The Prajnya Trust in 2008.
The Chennai-based NGO focusses on educating citizens about gender-based violence and its prevention. It also advocates for women's participation in public affairs as well as corporate establishments. The trust also runs a peace education programme by collaborating with schools, teachers and students.
Kalpana Viswanath is a social entrepreneur and the co-founder of Safetipin, an enterprise that leverages technology to collect data for safe travel of women in urban India. In 2013, she teamed up with her tech-savvy husband, Ashish Basu, to launch an app which allows users to verify the safety of a location based on a range of parameters including lighting, density of people, and transportation facilities.
Kalpana has also been working relentlessly to create a positive impact on the lives of women. She actively works with Jagori, an organisation that offers counselling and support to women who have survived various forms of violence. As its senior advisor, she was led the training of over 3,000 drivers in Delhi Transport Corporation on how to be more aware and conscientious of women’s safety.
Image credit: International Women's Health Coalition
Pritam is associated with Pune-based NGO Samyak and has been a part of several projects promoting gender equality and enhancing sexual and reproductive health among adolescent girls.
At a very young age, Pritam realised the implications of gender-based discrimination in India. When she herself experienced it in the form of restrictions imposed by family members and mockery at college, she decided to work for the welfare of women.
After conducting a study and finding out about the acts of denial when it came to abortion services for women in western Maharashtra, she worked with private medical practitioners, health activists, and the media to create a platform and advocate with the government to separate anti-sex selection campaigns from access to safe abortion services. She also initiated a hotline to provide relevant information to women about contraception and safe abortion, including contact details of safe service providers.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)