Not all heroes wear capes; some of them work selflessly to herald a better future for those in need. A bunch of such women will be speakers at the MAKERS India first-ever annual conference to be held at Hotel Conrad in Bengaluru on March 13 and 14. Around the theme of ‘Women Who Make India,’ they will speak about walking the talk on social change in India.
Get to know more about them here:
Educationist Shaheen Mistri is the Founder and CEO of Teach for India (TFI), a non-profit that runs a two-year paid fellowship programme in which fellows are recruited from across the country to impart quality education in under-resourced schools across seven cities. Currently, 37,500 students in 305 schools are being educated under the fellowship.
Shaheen also founded the Akanksha Foundation in 1991, a non-profit organisation that aims to usher in a change in the lives of children from underprivileged backgrounds through education. An Ashoka Fellow, she was honoured as the Global Leader for Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum in 2002.
With over 40 feature films spanning 10 languages, Nandita Das is the rare combination of an actor, director, and activist. Nandita has won numerous accolades for her performances, and has also served as a member of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005 and 2013. Her directorial debut Firaaq (2008) was premiered at more than 50 film festivals and won numerous awards.
Nandita was the first Indian to be inducted into the International Women’s Forum Hall of Fame for her contributions to the arts. Advocating against the inherent bias in Indian society towards fair skin, Nandita has been the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign that focuses on inclusivity beyond skin colour.
Social-activist and entrepreneur Nalini Shekar has been a beacon light in the lives of waste pickers through her NGO, Hasiru Dala, which she founded in 2013. The organisation has transformed the lives of thousands of men and women who work as waste pickers in Bengaluru, by providing them with government-recognised occupation ID cards which have enabled them to access financial and healthcare facilities.
Nalini has also co-founded Hasiru Dala Innovations - a social enterprise that aims to provide responsible waste management solutions to corporates establishments and residential complexes – with her husband Shekar Prabhakar. Previously, she has worked in the US and has championed the cause of immigrants and survivors of domestic violence.
One of India’s foremost transgender people activists, Akkai has been fighting for the rights of the transgender community for over two decades now. She is the founder of Bengaluru-based Ondede, an NGO which advocates the rights of women, children and sexual minorities, and creates awareness about sexuality and sexual diversity.
In a lot of firsts, Akkai is the first transgender person in India to have been awarded an honorary doctorate and the first transgender person in Karnataka to get her marriage registered. She was the recipient of the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award in 2015, the state’s second-highest civilian honour. Akkai and her husband Vasudev V broke another social barrier by legally adopting a baby boy last year.
A dialogue about feminism and gender politics in India would be incomplete without having Japleen Pasricha on board. She is the director and editor-in-chief of Feminism in India, a feminist digital community platform which is cultivating a feminist consciousness among the youth in the country.
In the era of #MeToo, FII has played a pivotal role in making the malignant issue of sexual harassment and gender-based violence reverberate in the public consciousness. FII also released a media toolkit which contains a set of guidelines for media personnel on sensitive coverage of sexual assault on women.
Menstruation has been a big taboo in our country since time immemorial. Aditi Gupta, the founder of Menstrupedia, a platform that strives to spread awareness about menstrual health and hygiene, has made a significant contribution towards destigmatising menstruation.
Menstrupedia explains menstruation through comics with storylines. Since its inception in 2014, the uniqueness of the medium of comic strips has lent itself tremendously in breaking down the taboo. As of October 2019, 6,000 schools use Menstrupedia comics. The comics have been translated into 16 languages, of which 12 are regional and the books are being locally printed and distributed in China, Hungary, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uruguay.