Srishti Bakshi has embarked on a walking mission spread over 260 days and covering 3800 km to highlight the issue of women empowerment and safety.
Thirty-year-old Srishti Bakshi was on the evening bus back home in Central Hong Kong, sometime last August, when she read a news item about a mother-daughter duo who was gang-raped in India’s Bulandshahar district. “It made me think that women are not spared even when they move as a family unit. I realised, this is an issue staring at us and denying it is insane. I wanted to direct my power and knowledge into doing something about it. And that’s how I decided to walk from Kanyakumari to Kashmir highlighting the issue of women safety and empowerment,” shares Srishti.
Srishti is the founder of Arrow by Crossbow – a movement started for the on-foot journey. With over 110 workshops designed by the key partners, they are teaching girls, women, the Police, Zilla Parisads and the community at large about digital and financial literacy, health, hygiene, sanitation, leadership, knowing one’s rights and gender sensitization. Along with local volunteers, renowned muralist Poornima Sukumar is painting walls in 30 locations that Crossbow walks through, leaving strong social messages. The wall in Kanyakumari says, “Women also have rights”.
The workshops are planned in a way that they are helpful for women in understanding their rights, giving them digital knowledge and helping them become self sufficient. The children are being taught how to help the women in their home to spread knowledge and share information like teaching how to access the internet. Some of the women have learnt how to make small earnings using WhatsApp. Shrishti shares an incident where a lady in Hong Kong became a chef and is running a restaurant successfully by learning to cook by watching hundreds of videos on YouTube.
“Srishti is an Empower Woman Champion for Change 2016-2017. UN Women’s Empower Women Initiative is dedicated to empowering women to achieve their full economic potential by inspiring both men and women to become to become advocates, change makers and leaders in their community,” United Nations on Sristi’s work.
Support from locals
When asked about support from the locals on her journey, Shrishti mentioned two incidents. One, when the team was offered a few therapy sessions by the Madurai physiotherapist of the Indian Blind Cricket Team spotted. In another incident, a lady selling custard apples left her stall unattended on the highway as soon as she saw Shrishti’s car and ran to offer apples to her and her team.
“Before starting the journey we were prepared about the language barrier, may be people wouldn’t have understood our message. But as soon as we put up boards, people started joining. We have at least 1000 people on the road now,” said Srishti.
Preparation of the journey
“Before starting the journey, I had to prepare myself for two things – one is the journey itself and the second is personal capabilities. I started taking training in Hong Kong where I used to focus on weight lifting and CrossFit. In the initial days, the weight lifting started from 15 kgs and slowly and steadily it went upto 100 kgs,” shares Shrishti.
Shrishti got positive support from her family as well. Her father decided to accompany her on the journey. Her mother-in-law, who is 60 years old and a doctor offered to come along her for the walk. “Everyone was thrilled and extremely supportive”, says Shrishti.
You can be part too
Arrow by Crossbow has launched a mobile app named ‘Crossbow Miles’. People can download the app and can select any of the different causes. Anyone can join the movement by submitting their information on their website and the team will contact back. The only thing they have to pay is for the stay, since it’s a crowdfunding campaign.
Our movement is a community driven movement, which means that the more participants we get, the better it is. I would like to invite everyone to come join us; join the movement, in whatever way they can, even through the app. We are working very hard, to have in terms of lot of people who want to come as groups so that they can facilitate their movement with us. So, if more and more people want to come they should write to us so that we can go back and say “yes, people want us to do this. They want that change and they want to action that change.”
To know more about the movement, click here.
This article has been written by Guru Prakash Choudhary.