Inspired by Nirbhaya, these Dwarka sisters came together against gender violence

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Inspired by Nirbhaya, these Dwarka sisters came together against gender violence

The sisters head Sahas, a volunteer organisation, which works towards knowledge building in adolescents on the issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive health.

Inspired by Nirbhaya, these Dwarka sisters came together against gender violence The two iron-willed sisters, Mona Yadav and Purvi Yadav

If one wishes to see change in society, one has to take the initiative, and see it to its conclusion. This is the philosophy embedded in the minds of the two sisters, Mona Yadav and Purvi Yadav, from Dwarka, who have dedicated their lives to gender sensitisation and to shaping the personalities of the juvenile in their community. The two sisters have been working in the field meeting young boys and girls and using tools like workshops, meetings, plays, lecture interactions, etc., to evolve them into good citizens.

They co-founded Sahas, a volunteer organisation, in June 2016 with the intention of knowledge building in adolescents on the issues of gender, sexuality and reproductive health. It was to resolve the gap in the existing education system, where there are no safe spaces for children to ask questions about their lives, have difficult conversations on tabooed issues such as periods, sex, child sexual abuse and gender issues. Their aim is to thereby build the children’s capacity to challenge experiences of gender-based violence in the form of child sexual abuse.

 

 

Though Sahas was started in 2016, their journey and passion to work towards creating a world free from gender-based violence dates back to 2012. In 2012, when the gangrape and death of Jyoti Singh (Nirbhaya) came to light in Delhi, Mona and Purvi came out of their homes to protest and seek justice at India Gate like many others. It was the first time they felt that they needed to do something to challenge the growing gender-based violence. They decided a problem solving approach, which could shift the gendered mindsets to bring a bigger change. “It was a turning point for us and we thought of doing something in that direction. What could be better than to sensitise the children on such a sensitive subject?” said Purvi, the older sister.

They started off by volunteering for a gender sensitisation organisation for two years where they began working on gender with young people. “Over the time, we realised that a lot of the experiences of violence that young people share originates from their first experience of child sexual abuse during their adolescence. I realised how it is so important to engage in a preventative approach to alleviate gender-based violence and work with adolescents,” said Purvi.

 

 

Initially, their family was not supportive and they had to face a lot of challenges, but the sisters did not lose hope and forged ahead. Mona, the younger sister, who is pursuing a PhD at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), shared, “My elder sister left her high-paying corporate job as a journalist to do Sahas work full-time. Our parents were against her leaving the job and for a length of time there was constant pressure on her to quit the NGO work and get back to a full-time paid job. As for me, my parents had been hoping that I would work as a lecturer in a college. But refuting that, we founded Sahas and began working full-time on it.”

“With time our parents understood the relevance of our work and realised how gender issues are global challenges. In fact, now they even support our work,” said Mona.

In their one-and-half-years of gender work, Sahas has worked with 150 adolescents in Delhi and Noida, 250 young people in Delhi, 150 rural women of Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh and 50 policemen of Ujjain Police to create a gender sensitive system. “This is our beginning and both of us are dedicated to create a system where there is proper gender equality. We are hoping and working towards a better tomorrow where the world is free from gender based violence,” said Purvi.