Ending gender-based violence in India
It is not every day—though perhaps soon it will be—that a group of young women who have spent much of their lives being discriminated against for their gender and caste are able to ban together to fight injustice. The Raahi Youth Network is just that; a network of youth leaders across the Mumbai and Thane Districts in Maharashtra, India are taking responsibility for inclusive development in their areas. This undertaking is an answer to the severe discrimination, violence, and lack of development opportunities faced by these long-marginalized communities. It is based on a proven model of grassroots youth leadership implemented by the visionary young leader, Deepa Pawar. Along with Deepa, the self-led group of women are laser-focused on using their first-hand experience to put an end to violence. “We started working in the social development sector from a young age, some of us as young as 14 years,” explains Anubhuti Mumbai. “We worked with at-risk, poor, marginalized, abused youth—while being young ourselves—and, with them, overcame societal injustices. We have seen the potential of youth leadership in attaining social justice in our own lives, and wish to mentor other youth to similarly take charge and fight for their own, and for other vulnerable groups’, rights.” Young people who experienced deprivations themselves can, by their own leadership, solve these problems best—as well as lead change in the fundamental socio-political issues which caused the problems in the first place.