Girl Up Vriddhi is an initiative of United Nations Foundation working across and along with global community of partners to achieve “Gender Equality”. They intend to initiate Global Leadership Development to position the girls to be leaders and to kick-start the movement for gender equality. Girl Up Vriddhi is a part of “Girl Up Campaign” registered under United Nations Foundation which has now been started by Srishti Kumari in Pune.
On one of the summer sunny days of June 2019 (03/06/19), Srishti was browsing through her social media account when she came across a page that caught her attention. It is often said that you attract what you think and what you like, and same can be associated with this case too. On that particular day, she saw the social media page of Girl Up based in Delhi. On seeing the page, she suddenly felt a connect. She was genuinely happy on discovering the existence of such a thing as “Girl Up”. And added to her happiness, she saw that they had openings of certain roles & positions as well. Srishti was chuffed and had this energy that she is going to get through this and will qualify for the position of Girl Up in Delhi. But all to no avail, she was rejected!
She says, “I don’t know whether this is my strength or weakness but I don’t like getting rejected professionally”. This tendency of her made her text the Girl Up page asking the loop holes in her profile on the grounds of which she was rejected. Now from what came afterwards, if at the end of the day a certain act of yours yields benefits to you and the society you live in; that action is your strength and is yours to curate further. Srishti got to know that she was rejected due to logistics reasons as it was difficult for the Girl Up team in Delhi to accommodate her from Pune and they were still not ready with a proper blueprint and framework for the expansion of Girl Up in Pune.
Now call it her strength or weakness, but that helped her to discover an opportunity for herself. She suggested Girl Up team to take up the plan for expansion of Girl Up in Pune herself. Within a few months, she received an e-mail from the Girl Up representative offering her a position of starting up her own Girl Up in Pune. They started with the back-end work from November 4, 2019. It took around 2 months to build an operational organization with dedicated team members and in January, 2020 they organized their first event. It always takes a smile to recollect and remember the most important dates. October 17, 2019 was the date when her happiness was limitless as she realized that she has an opportunity to work on a platform that was dedicated towards bringing a change in the society. She got a chance to contribute to the change in transforming the society she lived in, the change she always wanted to see.
It's often important for an organization to have that powerful a name that grips one’s attention. Vriddhi means “Growth”. Srishti wanted the organization’s name to be really simple yet magnetic, and at the end the motive of this organization was to work for the growth of women in the society.
One of the major barriers that they faced as an organization was of finances. It was a non-profit organization and there were no funds being generated from the public. No one was ready to join the initiative and extend a hand of help towards them for free. Even for setting up a small stall in a mall for imparting awareness for menstrual hygiene and distributing sanitation kits they were being asked to pay the rent of Rs. 60,000. Srishti always had a notion that for a plan to be successful, you must have financial backup. But it was later that she realized that if the impact of the campaign is huge, they can sustain without funds as well. It just required all the minds involved in Girl Up Vriddhi to be creative enough to create thunder effect impacts and sustain without funds.
They collaborated with schools and various educational institutions for free of cost to educate their students on sensitive topics such as menstrual hygiene, how girls and boys are supposed to behave with each other, good/bad touches etc.; topics which are generally not taken up by regular teachers in schools especially in government schools. Educational Institutes play a major role in building the correct mindset of students and also, empowerment starts with correct education. This creative idea enabled them to host their very first successful awareness campaign in a school on menstrual hygiene. After this, the entire team was teary. After all it was the result of 2 months of hard work put together by everyone. Up till now they have conducted around 10 to 12 workshops.
Earlier they thought that people who are more involved in extra-curricular activities would be more interested in working with them. But they were wrong. There are two types of people who want to work with them- one who wishes to just improve his/her profile and second the one who wishes to bring a change in genuine. And they were in search of the people falling in the second category. To filter out their kind, they had interviews on sensitive topics. This helped them to judge the candidates based on their opinions. As opinions reflect who you truly are and what your intentions are.
Their team as of now has 30 members and they are planning to enroll more members in future as they have more than 100 pending applications. They have up till now interacted with around 4400 kids. They have a resource panel of 6 members, some prominent leaders who help them further in this cause with their support and ideas and Girl Up Vriddhi is planning to extend their resource panel as well. Their resource panel consists of some prominent lawyers, gynecologists, psychiatrists etc. For future they are planning to introduce more such sensitive awareness campaigns like City Sanitation, Overall Development of Women and many more. They are also planning to start with mentorship program where the volunteers will be taking the charge for 2 kids each and helping them out in their career and life-related problems. Along with this, Girl Up Vriddhi is planning on starting with life skill classes for under privileged women to promote a sense of empowerment.
An action renders successful results only when the leader and the team make it their own equally. Srishti gives the credit of success of Girl Up Vriddhi to all her team members who were there with her and still are working together towards the achievement of the same objective. The team was more like a family as they used to spend quality time with each other as well apart from conducting official meetings. She gives special mention to Adwitia, Prabhuta and Kanika who worked tirelessly with her day and night and supported Girl Up throughout. She also mentions Aditi Arora, the India Representative who was there as a back support the entire time and was a commendable mentor.
Anyone who wants to create an impact, just don’t wait for others to do it for you or to join in some other movement for doing the same. Try to be the change and impart the change yourself. The maximum your kith and kin can do is provide you with mental and moral support as they are not in your shoes.
But you will be the one who is supposed to lay the foundation, build the base and create an architecture worth admiration. Rely on yourself, become independent. It prevents you from falling back. Even if you start with the smallest step today, you are making a change. And that change is enough to motivate others to join in the cause!
- Team Satyavachan