In India, the past 12 months have been testing to say the least – we faced a global pandemic, we struggled with a new lifestyle and the lack of liberties which we had taken for granted, we saw the pillars of our democracy and constitution crumbling, we watched millions of fellow-citizens struck with poverty and lack of basic necessities during the nation-wide lockdown.
Yet, we power through it all, in the hope of a better tomorrow. As we step in to a new year, take a look at some of the women-led initiatives which are cementing a better, more hopeful future.
Love Has No Religion
One of the biggest blow to India’s principles of secularism and equality was the decision by various State governments to introduced a ‘Love Jihad Law’ despite criticism from many quarters. The conspiracy theory that Hindu women are being targeted by Muslim men for marriage via forced religious conversion, has led to a highly misogynistic and anti-minority move from those in power.
However, as long as there is resistance, there is hope. India Love Project is an online movement started by veteran journalist Priya Ramani, along with her husband Samar Halarnkar and her friend Nioufer Venkataraman, to tell the first-person accounts of “Love and marriage outside the shackles of faith, caste, ethnicity and gender.”
The Instagram page already has more than 30,000 followers, and has stories of love and marriage from prominent voices including writers Meena Kandasamy and Janice Pariat – both of whom married out of the religions they were born into.
Power of law
India is ranked 112th in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020. Just a year ago, Thomson Reuters Foundation also found India to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world. Despite a deadly pandemic and a lockdown, the country has witnessed no dip in the abuse against its women in the last one year. The only surprise is that a platform dedicated to help women had not emerged earlier.
Founded in March 2020 by Jindal Global Law School graduate Manasi Chaudhary, Pink Legal is India's first website dedicated to women's rights and women's law. Based in Telangana, this firm ensures that no woman is alienated from the law of the land. Pink Legal explains the laws and legal processes to local women in their language, making laws accessible and less intimidating.
Championing mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on mental health, and 2020 was crucial in spreading awareness on mental health and the various ways to seek help. Now imagine a platform which helps you keep track of your mental health.
Founded by Anoushka Adya, an award-winning entrepreneur and digital marketer, earlier this year, Grow is a mental health startup that provides behaviour change technology and media to support individuals struggling with anxiety, stress, depression, burnout, and other consequences of the invasive changes due to COVID-19. It aims to build Grow Index — a clinically-backed assessment that helps people track and learn about their mental wellbeing.