Reclaiming the night: When we marched for women’s safety and empowerment.

It was a little over a month ago when we first spoke to you about the Volvo Cars’ video on Women’s safety. More than a video, it was a call for action - to be seen, to take back our city spaces, and in more ways than one, reclaim our place in the world.

That’s a pretty tall order. How do we get women to feel safe… and why is it important to do so? Why is there so much focus on “Women’s Empowerment”? For one, we’re half the population. When we grow, societies grow. Economies flourish when women have economic freedom. Human rights are half comprised of women’s rights. We cannot expect women to reach and exceed their full potential, while also looking over their shoulders, while also avoiding places and people and times of the day. 84% of women don’t feel safe in their own cities… a truly sobering fact.

That was the guiding thought behind the historic 3800 kilometres walk across India by Srishti Bakshi of the Crossbow Miles movement. Shocked into action by another news story about a gangrape of a mother and daughter in Northern India, Srishti wanted to do *something*. That something turned into a movement that touched over 85000 people across her 230-day journey. Sharing stories of ordinary women who have used financial literacy to carve out their own independence. Stories of courage, and ultimately, of victory.

As the Safety Partner for Crossbow Miles, Volvo Cars know what they’re talking about. Not only do they set the standard in safety when it comes to their cars, but being Swedish, they understand Gender Equality intimately. The Swedish Gender Equality principle is that everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to work and support themselves, to balance career and family life, and to live without the fear of abuse or violence. Volvo Cars’ involvement goes beyond Corporate Social Responsibility and brand slogans. As MD (Volvo Cars India) Charles Frump has said - 35% of their top leadership will be women by the year 2025.

We’re all fans of Srishti here at FirstPost, which is why we were so delighted to be involved in the Night Walk in Mumbai which marked the culmination of her historic journey. Along with Srishti, we had Dia Mirza and Sushmita Sen, both luminaries when it comes to working towards a better future for Indian women, talk about what women’s empowerment could mean for this country. Sushmita said, “Dar Mat (Don’t fear). When women support each other they can help each other and make cities safer. More women on the streets also make the streets safer. So speak up against violence. Make your city safe!”. The energy was palpable.

As we walked with Srishti to Haji Ali, we couldn’t help but reflect on something Sushmita had said earlier that evening - the most impressive step of that billion step journey, had been the first step. What were our first steps? What do Crossbow Miles and Volvo Cars want us to think about, write about, protest about, take action on, raise our voices to? Let’s take a look around, and then let’s not stop there.

No more going gently into the good night.

This is a partnered post.

Updated Date: Jun 21, 2018 15:57:57 IST