Humans We Love: ElsaMarie D’Silva
Welcome back to Humans We Love, where we celebrate the inspiring and dedicated people of the Badal ja! community. Today we spend time with ElsaMarie D’Silva.
ElsaMarie D’Silva co-founded SafeCity, a platform that documents personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. This aggregated data indicates trends at a local level, and can be used by individuals and local governments to monitor routes and improve law enforcement. So far the platform has collected close to 4,000 stories from over 50 cities in India. In addition to building SafeCity, Elsa also conducts workshops on sexual harassment, child sexual abuse awareness, and gender sensitivity.
BADAL JA!: What motivates you to get up every morning?
ELSA: Knowing that my work impacts so many people in a positive way gives me the courage and motivation to do what I do. When people come in contact with us and learn about sexual harassment, it makes them think a little more deeply about the subject. For those who have been abused, it gives them comfort in knowing that they are not alone and there is help available.
BJ!: What’s the scariest thing you’ve done?
ELSA: I would say quitting my comfortable corporate job and taking up social entrepreneurship. The career switch two years ago from aviation to the social sector required a lot of unlearning, learning, relearning, patience, and adaptation along with the fact that I am bootstrapping my organisation.
BJ!: When was the last time you were surprised in your work?
ELSA: Everyday! I am surprised when I meet someone and they open up and share their experiences with me. I feel so humbled because I know it is not easy.
BJ!: How would you describe Badal ja! to someone unfamiliar with it?
ELSA: Badal ja! is a facilitator helping us to bring about change in our social lives by exposing us to a different perspective and encouraging us to have the conversations that are needed but sorely lacking.
BJ!: You’ve been especially engaged in recent Badal ja! events around sexuality and sex education. What was one key takeaway from that experience?
ELSA: I loved the facilitation by Seeds of Awareness and would love to collaborate with them. Sex and issues around it are integral to our lives, yet we don’t talk about it with our parents, children, or friends. It is important to have these conversations and respect each other’s boundaries.
BJ!: Why do you believe in a better tomorrow for India?
ELSA: I strongly believe India has a huge advantage because of the youth population. I have seen the kind of work my young volunteers do and the way they think or approach a social problem, and it gives me a lot of hope. The more conversations we facilitate, the more people we will bring into our fold.