Masooma Ranalvi – The Courage to Speak Up
Masooma was seven when she went through one of the most traumatic experiences of her life. She underwent a painful and unhygienic procedure that left her scarred for life. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) or Khatna is one of the horrible realities of life for thousands of young girls from the Dawoodi Bohra community in India. The UN has even resolved to eliminate this practice. But India has long remained quiet on this subject.
That changed when Masooma started her campaign along with several other amazing women from the Speak Out On FGM community. They started a campaign asking the Government to ban this practice. The petition has garnered close to 50,000 signatures so far and has attracted national and international attention.
Tejaswini Naik – The Confidence to Make Change… Twice
Tejaswini Naik is a young Assistant Director who works with Bollywood Director Balki.
Tejaswini raised a complaint with YouTube after she came across disturbing videos of 8-10 year old Indian Children being made to repeat obscene lines. That was the trigger for her Change.org campaign to get these videos taken down. 50,000 signatures later, YouTube responded. They took down the videos and disabled the uploader’s account.
This victory inspired Tejaswini to start a campaign around another problem she had been facing–food delivery boys who messaged and harassed her. She realised that a lot of women faced this problem, and some of them had even been attacked and raped by delivery boys. She started a petition asking Zomato, to ensure background checks for their delivery team. 30,000 people joined her campaign and Zomato responded and committed to making the change happen. So did the National Restaurants Association.
Kavitha Muralidharan – The Battle Against Irresponsible Journalism
Kumudam is a Tamil magazine went a little too far when they attacked women for wearing leggings, filled with inappropriate photographs of women taken without their consent.
Kavitha, a senior journalist, wanted Kumudam to apologise for their outrageous and irresponsible piece. Her petition went viral and was covered by media all over the country. 20,000 signatures and a legging-focussed Twitter campaign soon had the Kumudam editor writing a defensive justification of the article.
Sanchita Jha – Making a Movement Out of a Campaign
Bellandur is Bengaluru’s biggest and one of its few surviving lakes. Bellandur lake is slowly choking to death.
Sanchita Jha, an IT professional, decided to start a petition, trying to get the Government’s attention on the issue. 37,000 signatures, a massive Facebook community, Twitter campaigns and citizen’s meetings followed as her campaign mobilised the protest to a different level. Soon, the Karnataka CM responded on Twitter, saying that he would ask the Municipal Corporation to look into the issue immediately.
Sagina Walyat – Fighting for India’s Soldiers
Sagina Walyat is a young lawyer who works in the Chandigarh High Court. She has family and friends in the Indian Army. One of the common discussions in these circles used to be the lack of proper bulletproof gear in the army.
After the Pathankot incident, where multiple soldiers died of torso wounds that could have been prevented by protective gear, Sagina decided to start a petition. She asked the Defence Minister to sanction the bulletproof jackets that the Indian Army had asked for more than a decade back.
Sagina’s petition got over 1 lakh signatures and continues to grow. While the Defence Minister has sanctioned half the required bulletproof jackets, Sagina vows to continue her campaign till the Army has all the jackets they need.
(Written by Preethi Herman, India Country Lead of Change.org, this was originally published in The Economic Times)