Organization Spotlight: Akshara Centre, Towards Gender Equality
As part of our Small Steps for Safety campaign, Badal Ja! has been reaching out to organizations working towards a safer Mumbai—and a safer India.
The “Small Steps for Safety” campaign is all about collaboration. By building a community of likeminded people and organizations, we hope to piece together critical elements of a safe city and understand our roles within it. That’s why Badal Ja! is bringing together a variety of people and organizations who are making our city safer every day. At the Walk on Thursday, you’ll be impressed by stories of their impact and convinced that you too can make a change.
One of the organizations we have recently connected with is Akshara Centre—an NGO whose vision to ‘work towards a gender just and violence free society’ is one that speaks to our hearts.
Established in 1995, Akshara has a wide range of initiatives that promote gender equality and make the city safer for all of us. Their work includes mentoring youth, providing educational scholarships, and conducting safety audits around the city. Akshara also organizes counselling sessions with local women on how to effectively deal with issues like domestic violence, harassment, and gender discrimination.
Stand Up Against Violence
Akshara couples its in-person initiatives with an incredible online center to support any woman who might have to deal with sexual or domestic violence. ‘Stand Up Against Violence’ has useful guides and tools for issues such as sexual harassment, gender discrimination, child abuse, dowry harassment, and more.
The site also features a comprehensive database of organizations working to end gender inequality and violence and supporting survivors of assault.
Ever heard of HarassMap? We have Akshara to thank for this initiative, too. Harassmap is an open source map that allows women to mark areas where harassment has occurred in Mumbai, defining them into categories such as sexual harassment, rape, leering and so on.
Given that violence against women is so pervasive in our city, many people feel that initiatives like Harassmap give a voice to victims of harassment and survivors of sexual violence, helping them to overcome the fear of reporting harassment to the police. Harrasmap also reminds women that they are not alone, and enables them to plan their travel safely.
Working with the Government
Akshara has also been involved with government initiatives. For example, Akshara supported the police to set up the 103 Helpline Number—a GPRS-based emergency helpline provides support for women in distress. Through increasing activity on HarassMap, Akshara also has been able to identify “unsafe” areas around the city and works closely with the police on ways to intervene.
Akshara’s multi-pronged approach to increasing safety in the city is one we think is truly commendable. We look forward to highlighting more of their achievements and success stories on Badal ja!
Feeling inspired yet? Come meet the heroes from Akshara and other likeminded organizations at our “Small Steps for Safety” walk on Thursday, June 12.