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Srishti Bakshi, Founder of CrossBow Miles recently completed a 3,800 kilometers journey on foot, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to sensitize people about violence against women.
Deeply distressed by the rape culture in India, especially when she read about a gang-rape of a mother and daughter in Bulandarshahr of Uttar Pradesh, Bakshi decided enough was enough. She quit her high flying job to begin a 3,800 km journey which she calls a modern day Dandi March. She conducted workshops on digital and financial literacy, health, hygiene and sanitation, leadership, and gender sensitization one village at a time, as she went along this 230 day walk.
Srishti, who has traveled around the world was tired of hearing about the increasing violence against girls and women in India; she strongly believes that change is possible only when we get out of our comfort zones and commit ourselves to action based change. This lead her to sign up for the United Nations Champions for Change 2016-2017 and she chose to spread digital literacy as she believes in the power of the internet to create change in the lives of people.
Srishti created the CrossBow Miles app, that tracks her journey and is a platform for people to contribute towards this initiative. She trained for a year before she began this journey in order to be fit and productive. Her family constantly supports her and helped her in making this journey possible. Many women joined her on this journey including, personalities such as Sushmita Sen and Diya Mirza who campaigned for a safe Mumbai by joining her on a Night Walk. She also works in collaboration with nineteen other organizations such as Google, the National Commission for Women and other state government NGOs that provide her with financial and logistical support.
During her research, she found out that seven out of ten women in India, especially in the rural belts, are victims of domestic abuse and they continue to bear these atrocities, as they are financially dependent on the men in the family. She opines that when women are digitally and financially literate they can use the internet to learn new skills and lead productive and independent lives. Financial independence also gives women the confidence to retaliate against the patriarchal system and stand against violence and abuse.
“I realized that no matter how much I counsel these women they are not going to leave their husbands or sign up for education. That’s why I chose digital literacy. You may not make it to a college or complete your education, but the Internet and digital literacy will open up your avenues. You can learn and build skills from wherever you are.”
Srishti finds local role models for these women whom they can relate to and believe that they too can change their lives. She also involves men in her workshops and conveys to them the wonders that can be created through the internet and most importantly the need for gender equality. According to her men play a very important role in creating gender equality and it requires them to unlearn many of the patriarchal practices that have caused the plight of women in India.
She was recognized by Britan’s Queen Elizebeth II as the 26th Commonwealth Point of Lightin honour for her successful endeavors towards empowering women to ensure their safety in society. She was also felicitated in Srinagar, for completing her journey in 230 days, earlier than it was initially planned. Srishti Bakshi now is looking forward to sharing the huge body of data that she has collected during this journey to come up with solutions and she hopes to implement these solutions to make India a safe and secure place for women.
Image Source: Facebook
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