I caught up with Priyanka, a New Delhi based social entrepreneur, quickly. It was a lovely conversation with her and learning her work in helping women in India elevate their platforms. A few things these days made me ponder over the causes of gender, discriminations, and violence. I am sharing our two cents from my interview with her. Hope this may give you a bit broader perspective about our world and inspire you further.
Priyanka is a young woman who lives the life at the fullest, taking each day as full of learning opportunities, whose quest is to make this world a better place for every human being especially for young women. She has done Masters in Human Ecology from Ambedkar University Delhi. She comes from a middle-class family in New Delhi originated from Haryana. Haryana is a state in India where the sex ratio is the most skewed. Priyanka was fortunate to have born to parents who never treated her any less than her brother. W
Story about BAYA
In 2015, Priyanka decided to work in an organization working for education of tribal children in a remote village in Central India. While working there, she tried her best to provide space for young girls to learn and grow equal to their fellow male friends. Seeing males taking part in the cricket tournament happening in this school every year made her question whether girls want to take part in the cricket as well. She consulted with the girls to get their views and realized that no one ever asked them about their choice when it comes to sports.
With the idea of establishing safe spaces for young women where they can share their life challenges, achievements and support each other, Priyanka applied to kanthari leadership training program in Trivandrum, Kerala (www.kanthari.org) where she learned how to go about this idea of establishing safe spaces for young women.
BAYA- Be As You Are (https://www.facebook.com/bayaindia.org/) is Priyanka’s ideas during Kanthari talks 2018 event on 24thNovember 2018 in Bengaluru, India. She gathered huge support and encouragement from the audience during this event.
My Conversation with Priyanka
Q1: Who is the main audience of BAYA?
Young women in India are overprotected by the families because of the fear of getting sexually assaulted or raped. Priyanka aims to create the awareness in her society that overprotection is not the solution because women should be empowered to handle tough situations on their own. The main audience for this mission is the young Indian women. According to the statistics published by MOSPI, Govt. of India, in 2011, 27.3% of total population is young females, between the age group 15-29 years (Youth as defined in National Youth Policy 2014). These young women, if provided support in building their self-confidence can excel in their endeavors making India a better country in terms of overall gender equality in the country.
Q2: Can you tell me one really difficulty thing you have been through doing your NGO in India?
Priyanka comes from a middle-class family where her parents were also overprotected because of the fear but she got a solo travel opportunity in 2014 when she was travelling to Himalayas for her field research work. That experience of solo travelling and staying by herself made Priyanka a much confident person. After that, she took whatever travel opportunities she got in all these 4 years. The more she travelled, the more she learned about herself and the world around her.
Q3: What is so special and meaningful of what you are doing?
Recently in India, many women came up with their stories of sexual assaults at the workplace as hashtag metoo experience. The stories remained in the media for sometime and then everything just stopped. But these were a few stories out of a huge population of women in India. More than 99% of cases in India go unreported because families don’t want to come in public and get ashamed in a country where victim-shaming and blaming happens. In such a scenario, there’s a need to establish safe spaces for women where they can openly share their life stories, their experiences and get support from each other and professional women who can provide emotional and legal support if needed. Priyanka’s project aims to establish such space and support network using travel programs as a mean for young women.
Q4: What is in the future?
Currently Priyanka’s aim is to do pilot program starting with young women living in New Delhi but slowly she wants to build this network across India and possibly to other countries where women are in similar situations as Indian women. The fear and experiences of sexual assaults are not only limited to one country but it’s a story of many women in most of the countries be it developed or developing countries. The aim is to bring these voices up so that women can support each other instead of bringing each other down by victim shaming.