I remember walking into the local Chinese school where I taught, just a few days before Christmas in 2012. I was planning to teach the kids Christmas carols and was already humming happily. As the only Indian in the school, I was always treated nicely but distantly. I suppose my colleagues struggled with English and didn’t want to make the effort to converse.
That day was different. There was a group of four women sitting together and looking visibly pained. As I walked in with my cheery good mornings, they responded and then one hesitantly said, ” We hear bad rape in India. We sorry.” They were talking of course of the Nirbhaya case.
In that one second, I paled, retched, sobbed, fumed and cried all at once. There was no condescension in their voices, just genuine concern. And in that one second, the armour of ‘Not my problem!’ that I had built up my entire life, crumbled.
Growing up in India, we hear stories of violence, injustice and oppression against women every other day. As working adults abroad, when we read these same stories, they make us cringe, make us embarrassed and make us thankful to have left India. But deep down, they also make us feel guilty. Guilty that we aren’t able to help in any way.
I’m proud to know this incredible woman – Srishti Bakshi. She is an absolute inspiration.
She has been nominated as a Champion for Change 2017 under the Empower Women Initiative of United Nations Women. This September she begins a 260 day journey walking the entire length of India (3,800km!), campaigning to make India a safe and equal place for Women. She will be conducting workshops to empower women through financial and digital literacy.
Srishti was an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) like me, with a high paying job in Hong Kong. It would have been easy for her to say ‘not my problem’ and turn a blind eye. But she didn’t.
I’m going to join Srishti in Project CrossBow. With two children under four, I won’t be able to join the actual walk, but I can participate virtually. Every step I take while here in Hong Kong gets counted on the CrossBow app and unlocks funds by corporate and philanthropic sponsors towards organisations in India, working to empower women.
To go from a one-woman walk to a nation-wide Modern Day Dandi March, CrossBow is going to need great virality and social media galvanisation. And that’s where my expertise as a digital marketer comes in. Because this is my fight. This is my movement. This IS my problem.