Gold to Gold hota hai….Chora lawe ya Chori…..

by Sabah and Saima

                        A Dialogue from Movie “Dangal”

       शायद हम सभी ने “दंगल “ फिल्म देखा होगा |इस फिल्म के बाद बोहोत सारे लोग इस से प्रेरित हुए होंगे …..पर ऐसी लड्कियौं की कहानिया बोहोत सालो से चल रही है | यह कहानी इस लिए सबके सामने आई क्युओंकी उन्होंने अपने देश का नाम रोशन किया …पर ऐसी कितनी लडकियों की कहानी है जो “चार दिवारी “ में  बंद रह जाती है|  शायद यह लडकियों की कहानी भी इसी तरह बंद रह जाती ,जब तक वोह अपने आप को किसी के काबिल नहीं समझती | इनके पिता ने उनको अपना सपना पूरा करने के लिए देश का नाम रोशन करने के लिए अपनी बेटियों को उस अखाड़े में धकेला जिसमे सिर्फ आदमी ही जा सकते है ऐसी सोच है समाज की…उनके दंगल लड़ने पर ,लड़के जैसे कपडे पेहेन्ने पर कई सवालों का सामना करना पढ़ा पर वोह लग रुके  नहीं और न ही उनके पिता रुके …वोह उनकी ढाल बन कर खड़े रहे  …पर असल ज़िन्दगी में ऐसी बोहोत सी लडकिया  है जो समाज के दबाव से ही अपने सपनो को कुचल देती है और समाज के साथ समझोता कर लेती है |

     पर दंगल फिल्म में जब दोनों लडकियां देश का नाम रोशन करती है तब समज उनको उनके लड़की होने का एहसास नहीं दिलाता…………..क्या ज़रूरी है के हमें हमारे देश का नाम रोशन करने पर ही समाज हमें हमारे हिसाब से चलने दे ? इसी तरह समाज हमारे देश के साथ साथ हमारे ज़िन्दगी में एक पहचान बन्ने दे ..तो शायद हमें अपने सपनो को कुचलने की ज़रूरत ना  पड़े |हमने तो यह ठान लिया है के हम लडकिया  भी अपनी पहचान बनाकर रहेंगे ,फिर चाहे उसमे वक़्त ही क्यों ना  लगे|


by Sayali Ghotikar

आता तू मोठी झालीस
ऐक नीट
जोरात बोलायचं नाही
जोरात हसायचं नाही
नीट बस गं. 
नीट कपडे घालायचे
फार कुठे बोलायचं नाही
तरीही काही झालंच “तसं”
कोणाला सांगायचं नाही
अगदी स्वत:लाही नाही’
delete करून टाकायचं एकदम

शेवटी तुझं चांगलं तर हवय ना आम्हाला

(“ती” एकच विचारते)
चांगलं म्हणजे नक्की काय ……?

I Can Do It- Sabah’s Story

Story by Mahima Dev

Story based on Sabah Wajid Ali Siddiqui, 19 years old, First Year BAF at MVM College

While interning at Vacha Resource Centre for Women and Girls, I came across a girl named Sabah. I was impressed by her confidence and gumption, she was never hesitant to put forth her view. I was surprised to learn that she was the same age as I am. She has been with Vacha for 9 years now. Just goes to show how a girl’s strong will and a little external push can create great outcomes. Here is Sabah’s story-

Sabah’s younger days… she has come a long way

A timid smile and resolute voice, Sabah’s personality intrigues you instantaneously. She speaks with striking confidence about her journey. Her ambition acts as the source of her morale, never mind that resources and odds are not exactly in her favour. She soldiers on. Her latest achievement is a research paper on “The Role and Contribution of Small and Medium Enterprises in the Indian Economy” which was published by her college.

At first Sabah found it hard to cope in a college environment. If being a girl of newfound adulthood wasn’t already complex enough, she was suddenly amidst fluent English speakers. Up until the tenth grade Sabah had studied in an Urdu medium school. She was usually the outspoken girl at her old school, but found herself terribly quiet here. She was perplexed as this was all she ever wanted- going to college, pursuing a Bachelors in Accounting and Finance degree. In fact she was already the most qualified person in her nine-member family. What’s more, she’d even received the Shadhika scholarship. What she hadn’t accounted for though, was the language barrier.
After a few days and many awkward attempts at spoken English, she realised that although she was weak at English, no one, not even the teachers could speak Hindi as fluently as herself. Her grasp over economic theory and accounting too, was good. She cinched the opportunity with a speech and dazzled her teachers and classmates alike. That day she knew that she was in no way inferior, all she had to do was muster her courage and play to her strengths.

With her nascent confidence, she was determined to keep her winning streak going. She had heard, in the passing, about a study that her college was about to publish on “SMEs.” She wondered what they were. Abbreviations have always confused her, she turned to her most credible source- Google. This too, was only accessible to her at her college laboratory and at the Vacha resource centre. When she hit ‘search’ she was introduced to a new world that seemed both intriguing and elusive in parts. She delved deeper into the realm of Small and Medium industries in India. She walked through definition, marched through advantages, darted through importance and danced through economic impact. Her mind was aflame- she wanted to know more.

Technology can be a girl’s best friend

Sabah pulled out all stops, she elicited every source possible- teachers, mentors, family, and the ever helpful internet. Many weeks went into it. She even sacrificed a few of her beloved accounts lectures in college to gain practical knowledge outside. She says, “Research and application gave me a much deeper insight into economics and clarified many concepts on GDP. I have learned new words in English also. I think everyone should learn from books first and then apply in real life to fully understand subjects.” Many a time she found her near and dear ones concerned about her. ”Are you mad spending so much time in all this and missing classes too? The teacher said this was co-curricular, that means no marks for all this. Better forget it”, said a classmate. But Sabah knew better. She told her classmate that although the teacher would not award extra marks for her research, she would surely do better on her exams because of it. She toiled on, asking her teachers more and more questions each day. Crunching numbers and data was what she looked forward to the most every day. Because “at the end of the hard work when I get a clear conclusion, it makes me very happy.”

Finally, Sabah turned in her research to her teacher. It was a file that read “Role and Contribution of SMEs in Indian Economy.” Sabah beamed with contentment and pride as she handed it over. A few days later, her teacher asked her to wait back after class. “Sabah, the principal loved your thesis. It has been selected for the college publication. In the interest of the college students, we would love for you to present your thesis at the conference next month,” the teacher said. These words seemed like the sweetest song to Sabah. Her committed effort had finally borne fruit. In the next moment, it dawned on Sabah that she would have now to present her research to an auditorium full of students, teachers, dignitaries and international experts- in English! But she had never let anxiety and nervousness hold her back in life, and she was not going to start now. So she smiled and said, “Sure, madam.”


Sabah hones her speaking skills

The conference day arrived quickly. Sabah had practised relentlessly, yet some nervousness remained, it was her first big address. The event started with the keynote speech by Mr. Vincent Wahrenburg, Head of Environmental Engineering, IRIANS, Berlin and a wonderful address by Mr. Chandrakant Salunkhe, Founder and President, SME Chambers of India. Next up was Sabah. She explained her thesis from beginning to end, about the importance of government support to SMEs, micro scale innovation, women entrepreneurs, and challenges in employment growth with proposed solutions. She ended on a beautiful note, “We must encourage girls to study and run their own small businesses, just like they run their households.” The content made up for any shortcomings in her linguistics. Everyone appreciated her presentation and signature confidence. Mr. Wahrenburg, congratulated her personally.

This experience has been unforgettable for Sabah, she cannot wait to start research for her next presentation. She says, “I love presenting to people because I want my voice to be heard by many. I want to become a lecturer in accounting and economics someday.”


Book on girls’ menstruation experiences released

book titleYesterday, on occasion of Menstruation Hygiene Day, Vacha released a volume of girls’ own accounts of ‘the tabooed’ subject of menstruation.
Titled ‘Puberty, Poverty and Gender – Girls Speak about Menstruation’, the book is illustrated with photographs of places relevant to issues of menstruation and taboos and control of mobility that come with onset of menarche. The pictures are taken by girls themselves who have also chosen the sites. The girls are from deprived communities and belong to poverty affected families. The stories talk of pain, humiliation and confusion and also of fun and celebration of life. Hindi and Marathi versions of the book are in production and will be released soon. 
May 28 has been celebrated as the International Day for Menstruation Hygiene by many organizations in the world. It is also celebrated as the Day of Action for Women’s Health.
Do you think it is important to celebrate this day? What do you think of girls speaking out about their menstruation experiences? Have you had similar experiences of shame and silence surrounding the subject?

You don’t have to be a boy to dream big

When you go to a toy shop and ask for a toy, the shopkeeper has one question ready- “For a boy or a girl?” It seems that for the shopkeeper, it is very difficult to show toys without this information. Girls can’t play with cars and boys can’t play with dolls, as if the toys refuse to be played with by them. and we follow this blindly. Do not give equal opportunities to both girls and boys to experience wide variety of play materials and games.

Recently we went to a toyshop to buy games for the girls of Vacha. It was a little difficult for us to even see the toys that are “meant” for boys according to the toy companies and the shopkeepers. Hence we decided that we won’t mention the gender. The shopkeeper was keen to know whether it’s a boy or a girl for whom we wanted the games. We just ignored his question and it was indeed easy for us to select games without any shocking reaction from the shopkeeper. You really don’t need to look for a game on the basis of the gender of the child. Just choose a good game or a toy which you think is best suited for a particular age and is engaging. That’s all that matters.

Same goes for jobs. Go for a job that you think will define you. Gender shouldn’t matter because what you can do is not because you are a girl or a boy. Let people stare, criticize and blame you for doing something that only guys are “supposed” to do. Dream big because dreams don’t know you are a girl or a boy!

Tushita Mukherjee

This does not happen only in India. click on the link below to see these powerful girls.

Maidan khula ab der kis baat ki- Sport’s day for girls by girls

The newspapers amply captured how the unexpected heavy rainfall on a lazy Sunday  ushered in the famous Mumbai Monsoon on 9th June, 2013; but what most people might not ever get to know is how on that very same day, around 200 young girls truly ruled the often neglected playground at Khotwadi, Santacruz.

So, the next question that comes to mind is – How did they do so? And what’s so special about that?

Vacha, a women’s rights NGO, active in Mumbai since 1987, organized this Sports event with the help of girl leaders selected from Vacha’s different Community Centres spread across Mumbai – as the girls beamingly asserted that these Kabaddi and Cricket tournaments have been specifically conceptualized and planned by girls, for girls!

Before we forget, one cannot look away from the reality that there are still a few countries where girls are forbidden from participating in Sports – thankfully, India has never been one of those. But, when you hear a small girl in 4th standard chirp “I don’t play anymore. I used to play when I was small” one is not only forced to question the notion of how much younger does one need to be to play, but also probes us to confront the boundaries in our very own minds which take most girls further and further away from the neighbourhood playgrounds.

The rains were relentlessly pouring with literally no ray of sunshine in the sky – however the drenched playground did not dampen the spirit of the Vacha girls who despite the heavy showers decided to go ahead with the event – come what may..

Thus, the day constituted of brief matches of kabaddi and cricket between teams from different bastis and a series of interesting game stalls for the non-participants.

Soon, in no time “rain” became a secondary issue, as the air began to get filled with the lively competitive commentary – throwing audience like us into the suspense over which team would win?!! Mind you, the commentators ensured that the so called losing team rejoiced even more loudly; yet, it was still pretty intriguing to see how a little girl burst into pools of tears after losing a game – I’m not saying it’s a happy sight – but it was very new to watch a little girl from a Mumbai basti express her disappointment on not achieving her objective, while her co-team members or saheliyas tried to revive her spirits by saying how their team atleast got to learn what could they improve on in order to win next time.

And in an hour or so a bunch of primary school girls questioned – “why only the didis were playing in the competition while they could only watch” – thereby triggering many other independent kabaddi matches – which brought out the range of players present – some were troubled over why their friends were not saying “kabaddi-kabaddi”, there were others who seemed to believe that the crux of kabaddi lies in pushing their friend in the puddle of water with a vengeance. On the cricket front, there were some who were just glad to hit the ball with the bat, while some other fielders were more than happy if the striker hit a 4 or 6 as that would give them a wonderfully plausible excuse to wade through oodles of flooding water just to get the prized ball.


Spectators were there too – residents from the surrounding buildings were braving the harsh rain to peer through their windows; men from the neighbouring basti had come to see what the “hulla-ballo” was about, little boys who usually preside over this playground were instead watching the match from the side-lines – the tables had indeed turned! Though, could one also take an ambitious and difficult step into the future and envision a tournament involving mixed teams of girls and boys?

In all honesty, one wonders how the above audience may have taken all this – did they speculate over whether these girls would fall sick after getting wet in these ceaseless rains? Or did they disapprove the uncouth display of freedom the girls showed while playing in their damp clothes? But they don’t know that in those three hours the girls had singlehandedly transformed “sports” to “games” to “just running around” to “letting oneself go” to “moments without any worries.”

Of course, this is truly just the beginning – at the end of the day all the girls have to go back to their homes – to the world of “shoulds” and “should nots” – some girls’ mirth may continue to linger even after they reach their homes, some may be slowly dwindling into the apprehension of the impending argument with their families over why they are soaked, and some may have already started crying over how angry their brothers would be when they see that they ripped the raincoat in all the running and jumping.

Therefore, these girls (each a leader in her own right) have a long way to go – but this Sunday, this rain, this playground, this sudden freedom – cannot be taken away from them – this ‘time’, their ‘time’ is for them to keep and hone..

–         Ruchira Goswami

Sexual harassment in streets

Sarika has been with Vacha for the last 11 years. Originally as a student in our Girl’s centre now as a peer educator. She was part of a year-long project for PUKAR. The following news item appeared in Timeout Mumbai edition. Eve-teasing is an old law from British time prohibiting harassment of women in streets by roadside Romeo’s.

Eve-teasers, television artists and orphan boys. Nergish Sunavala previews PUKAR’s annual research exhibition.

Most girls do their best to avoid their neighbourhood eve-teasers. But Sarika Tripathi and some of the other girls in her Santa Cruz slum have spent the past year seeking out and interviewing the boys who annoy them as part of a year-long project for urban research group Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research. The girls, who also mapped the eve-teasers’ haunts, discovered that the boys believed that girls like the attention. “The boys say… ‘Girls themselves choose to wear fashionable, tiny clothes and make up so that we tease them, so that we harass them,'” said Tripathi. What surprised her was that education appeared to make no difference to that sentiment – the eve-teasers ranged from illiterate to highly educated.

From May 28, Tripathi and 323 other barefoot researchers of PUKAR will showcase their research projects at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences as part of their graduation exhibition. Apart from eve-teasing, the projects look at issues like employment for the differently-abled in malls, careers of orphan boys and the lives of backstage artists in the television industry. PUKAR’s research groups over the years have included construction workers, juvenile delinquents, doctors and architects. The varied education levels and life experiences are a huge challenge but also part of the learning experience, said PUKAR executive director Anita Deshmukh. “We usually group them together [during workshops] in such a way that the ragpicker will sit next to the doctor,” said Deshmukh.

Each group of approximately 10 people is encouraged to choose topics “located in their living experiences” and given Rs.5,000 a month for expenses. PUKAR also conducts workshops starting from the basics of how to write. Those who have had no formal education are given a voice recorder. In any batch, 37 per cent of researchers are from marginalised groups. This year a group of orphans from a government hostel will be doing a project on the challenges faced by their hostelmates in choosing a career. Last year, a similar group had a young boy who refused to say a word when he joined. “At the end of the year, he got up on the stage and he said, ‘Today I don’t feel guilty that I am an orphan,'” recalled Deshmukh.

Research doesn’t change reality but it can have some real world effects. Tripathi’s group conducted a debate between boys and girls in their slum about whether young women should go out after 7pm. “The boys said, ‘Girls realise the dangers and still go out, they like it, they should stay at home and do the housework’,” said Tripathi. The girls countered by saying that boys do women’s work when they pick careers like hotel management, so why shouldn’t women cross gender boundaries as well? Even if the boys didn’t buy their arguments, Tripathi said, some of them gained some respect for the girls and the confidence they displayed.

Source: Timeout Mumbai Magazine, May 27- June 9, 2011 issue, pp 55

On being a girl

“Now u r a WOMAN”

“DON’T pray GOD in ur days”

“Come home EARLY”


  These statements usually fall on ur ears when:

1]u start ur periods

2]when u turn 13 i.e become a teenager

3]when u start off with ur college

But why d hell such insecurities grown-ups feel about us when we are on the thresholds of mouldig into a WOMAN.???

YES.we do know that this is a delicate stage of our lives where we can sense responsibilities gathering up on our shoulders

But why can’t we be just ‘FREE’?why only we have 2 take care of a function while our brothers can just passtime on their addas

We also have some desires DESIRE      to party}

                                                                    to come home late}

                                                                    to travel alone}like a TEENAGER

                                                                    to FLY}

It is just a difference of one word that parents fail 2 show in us TRUST

 As a girl from high-middle class family I do consider myself LUCKY that i get whatever i want esp.the FREEDOM i want.

But what about those who have greater responsibilities,no education and many mouths 2 feed?

I would like to thank my parents & family for providing me with whatever I want& would love 2 hear from them “YES THATS MY DAUGHTER”

–          Rucha Sawargaonkar