Godrej India Culture Lab is a Mumbai-based experimental space that brings together ideas and people together to explore what it means to be Indian. It held a two-day conference, ‘We the Nation: Micro-narratives of change’ on June 30th and July 1st, in Mumbai. The conference, showcased organisations that are documenting the rapid changes taking place in India today, through talks, panel discussions and exhibitions. It featured noted journalist, P. Sainath, who spoke about the work he is doing through People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), Video Volunteers, a Goa-based organisation that empowers marginalised communities to tell their stories, Digital Desh Drive, an annual report that explores how non-metros are using the internet, Khabar Lahariya, a community-run newspaper published by rural women; amongst other path-breaking and inspiring organisations.
SNEHA’s sanginis (women volunteers from the community) attached to our Prevention of Violence against Women and Children program, who identify and map cases of domestic violence, refer cases to our crisis centre for legal aid or intervention and hold community meetings to discuss gender norms, had the opportunity to attend the the conference and participate in a panel discussion. They were accompanied by Meera Sai, Program Coordinator of the Little Sister project that uses mobile technology to track and report instances of domestic violence in Dharavi.
This was an opportunity for our Sanginis to share their experience in using mobile technology to address the pervasive issue of domestic violence in slum communities. The audience was intrigued to know how Shehzadi, one of our sanginis, who hails from the muslim community, is challenging gender norms. Shehzadi has been part of SNEHA’s efforts in preventing domestic violence for over a decade now. Nikita, another Sangini, shared about how SNEHA has played a pivotal role in shaping her thoughts – ‘Not being educated or not being able to converse in English has not stopped me from being confident,’ she said while telling a tale about how she fought with her family and supported her daughter to pursue higher studies.
For our sanginis, who work on challenging patriarchy and social norms everyday, the conference was a validation of their inspiring work as well as an incredible platform to share their stories. Empowering women and developing grassroots’ leaders is the core of our work in preventing gender violence and platforms like these, are where we want our sanginis to be!