Read on how to enrich your life by purpose, i.e. to find depth and, a reason to get out of bed each morning, your own Ikigai.
When we looked for Indian women who have made a difference to other women’s lives, we came across these 10 women whose work speaks for itself.
“The lamps are different, but the light is the same” – Rumi
These women have proven that the light within us shines so bright; it illuminates the entire environment where we live in.
The organizations started by Indian women are the go-to places for children and women in times of trouble. They give support to various causes such as protection against domestic abuse, sexual harassment, acid attack survivors, underprivileged children, senior citizen care etc.
Today in our times, female leaders not only empower themselves but also empower the world around them. These bright Indian women undertook meaningful initiatives to make a positive difference and contribute to the society we live in. All of them have displayed exemplary amount of commitment and are very focused and dedicated in their individual endeavours.
Here, I have listed a few of the organizations started by Indian women who have made a world of difference to the society they stay in.
These are just a few who deserve an ovation for their excellence and their exemplary contribution to society:
This organization is started by 19 year-old Meghana Dabbara. She had always visualized a world where people live in peace and harmony. ‘Make the World Wonderful’ is a civil society organization that aims to build harmony. They work towards adopting underprivileged children and provide them value-based education with complete care in a residential platform. They work to inculcate values in them in a healthy, safe and positive environment.
Their mission, “Our philosophy is to spread the light. We believe that to wipe away the darkness, one should focus on spreading the light so that the darkness dissolves by itself.”
“Never be afraid to dream big” is a teaching Meghana took from our late President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, which motivated her to establish, ‘Make the World Wonderful’. This young lady has certainly proved that age is not a barrier when pursuing a dream.
For more information, visit here.
Azad Foundation is driven by the vision of a world where all women – in particular women from underprivileged backgrounds – enjoy full citizenship, earn a livelihood with dignity and generate wealth and value for all. They believe that when women are socially and economically empowered, they become catalysts of change – in their families and their communities. Their mission – To equip resource-poor women with knowledge and skills so that they excel as professionals and entrepreneurs, and earn a “livelihood with dignity” in jobs and markets that had traditionally been closed to them.
Meenu Vadera, the executive director is a feminist and a social entrepreneur. She has dedicated herself to the cause of enabling women to live a life of dignity. After having completed her Masters degree in Social Development from the London School of Economics, she was actively involved in development initiatives as the Country Director of Action Aid in Uganda. After returning to India, she led an innovative initiative of Aagaz Academies – Schools of Leadership for elected women panchayat leaders, before she found Azad Foundation.
She has been working on women’s issue, both on a national and international level for more than two decades.
Founded by Kirthi Jayakumar, its mission is to be the voice of the unheard all over the world by telling their stories. Her initiative stands out as ‘Red Elephant’ in order to convey the stories that must never be forgotten, stories that display courage that will always remain, and stories that deliver profound lessons.
They offer a unique app, ‘Saahas’ which can be used as a phone app or a web app to protect against Gender Based Violence. The word ‘Saahas’ means Courage in Hindi. Saahas offers a survivor and a bystander a platform which can be accessed from anywhere to identify the nearest service provider for a survivor.
Kirthi Jayakumar is a Lawyer/Writer from Chennai, India. She has an avid reader with a keen interest in Public International Law and Gender issues. She has also worked as a UN volunteer, an advocate and an activist with several grassroot organizations and academic foundations.
Founded by S.G. Susheelamma, their vision is to create a society where senior citizens get to live in comfort and dignity during their last phase in their life, children get love and guidance enabling them to be good human beings, to empower distressed women and work to build a healthy, hunger free world.
Started in the year 1975, Smt S.G. Susheelamma was inspired by her own personal experiences to help other women and children live a self reliant lifestyle. She built this organization with much courage and focus and it functions on the style of Gandhi- ism making it a talked about and respected organization.
Started by Pooja Taparia, this organization is based in Mumbai and works on child sexual abuse. Its mission is to empower individuals, families, communities and society with prevention and intervention skills to reduce the occurrence of child sexual abuse and heal its psychological, social, sexual and physical consequences.
Pooja Taparia, is the founder of ARPAN. She has spent much of career working in social change and development causes. She is the founding member of SAPCAN, SAARC Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. She is also a member of ISPCAN, International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Her life work has been put up as a part of the Waldzell Collection, in the Melk Abbey, a museum located in Austria.
Butterflies is a voluntary organisation working with the vulnerable classes of children, especially street children. Using a non-institutional approach, this organization strives to educate and impart life skills enabling them to make them independent.
Founded in 1989, by Rita Panicker Pinto, Butterflies was set up with a core belief that children’s voices need to be heard. Since its beginning, Butterflies has grown into a movement with 140 staff reaching out to almost 5,200 children every year and has touched the lives of almost 44,000 children till date.
Rita Panicker would see a number of children in the suburbs of Mumbai, while commuting by train to her workplace, Tata Institute of Social Sciences where she used to teach as a professor. She was intrigued by their stories and was touched by their positive spirit and view on life. After visiting 11 organizations to understand the existing programs for street children, she came up with her own strategies and programs. This led to Butterflies being born. Its core value being that it is a democratic organization, where the children’s voices need to be taken seriously.
‘Chhanv – an adobe for acid attack survivors’ is based in New Delhi. This foundation is unique in the sense that it is run by acid attack survivors.
Laxmi Agarwal is the director of Chhanv Foundation, a NGO dedicated to help the survivors of acid attacks in India. It is the go to support center to aid acid attack survivors. She herself being an acid attack survivor at the age of 15, speaks for the rights of its victims. She collected 27000 signatures against acid attacks and submitted her petition to the highest court in India, Supreme Court. This led the Supreme Court to regulate acid sales, on the national and state level and also to prosecute those involved in this heinous act.
She received a 2014 International Women of Courage Award by US First Lady, Michelle Obama. She has truly inspired the younger generation to reflect on their inner beauty instead of their physical characteristics.
A Mumbai – based NGO, SNEHA address four primary areas of concerns – Maternal and Newborn Health, Child Health and Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Prevention of Violence against Women and Children.
Dr. Armida Fernandez and Ms. Mary Patricia Soans are the founder trustees of SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action).
Dr Armida Fernandez was Professor and Head of Neonatology at Lokmanaya Tilak Municipal General (LTMG) Hospital and Medical College for over 25 years and Dean of the hospital for 3 years.
In the 1990’s, Dr. Armida Fernandez and her team were spending countless hours in the NICU saving lives of infants born to mothers from the urban slums. These mothers were malnutritioned themselves and lacked knowledge on maintaining healthy pregnancies or keeping their children healthy. After all the efforts that went into saving these infant’s lives, releasing them into these impoverished environments was a big concern to her and her team members.
Dr. Fernandez realized that the only solution was to empower these women with the knowledge essential to build healthier families. With that objective, a small team of specialists went to the slums of Dharavi to educate women on subjects like nutrition, ante natal care, the importance of delivering babies in hospitals and post natal care. The team realized that though these women lacked basic information, they were eager to learn and put it to practical use, leading to the birth of SNEHA. Today, SNEHA is a 350+ person progressive organisation.
In addition to all her outstanding contributions in the field of medicine, Dr Fernandez is also wholly responsible for the opening of Asia’s first ever milk bank – where breast milk is collected from donor mothers, pasteurised and stored in a frozen state and delivered when required for pre-mature babies or for babies who are unable to get breast milk for various other reasons.
Founded by Rashmi Aiyappa in Bangalore, AASHWASAN’s vision is, To Transform Lives by Leading Individuals to explore their Infinite Self.
In order to establish this, they offer Awareness programs and transformative counseling services. Their revolutionary services include, Heal Cancer Initiative, Heal Depression Initiative, Preventive Health Initiative, Initiative for Victims of Abuse, Women’s Empowerment Initiative and De-addiction and rehabitation initiatives.
Ms Rashmi Aiyappa is a spiritual scientist and an inventor. Aashwasan has accomplished commendable number of breakthroughs in the field of health. The credit goes to the various techniques developed by Ms Rashmi Aiyappa, herself.
RAHI Foundation is based in New Delhi and works all across the country. It was set up in 1996 and is an organization focused on women survivors of Incest and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
Anuja Gupta, the Founder and Executive Director at RAHI is one of India’s leading experts on incest/child sexual abuse. At a time, when this topic was not talked about, let alone addressed, she started RAHI (Recovering and Healing from Incest) Foundation. This is India’s first incest/child sexual abuse response organisation.
Anuja is an Educator, Trainer and Therapist in the area of incest/child sexual abuse. She conducts her trainings with mental health professionals and students. She lectures and presents extensively on the subject at universities, schools, conferences, NGOs and other forums in the country and abroad. She conducts both individual and group therapy with the survivors and their respective families.
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