Girl Up अbaadh: Ambedkar University's UN Foundation Initiative
By: NH Desk
Girl Up अbaadh, a chapter under the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, is a college club operating out of New Delhi’s Ambedkar University. The club was founded during the pandemic, looking at the need for community support within the university space.
अbaadh provides a platform through which women can share their stories. अbaadh (Hindi) translates to ‘boundless’ and captures the essence of the club candidly. Boundless in the true sense of efforts, boundless in bringing change, and boundless in standing up for the right.
Over the last six months, the club has been working towards spreading awareness about women empowerment, gender equality, mental health, intersectionality, consent and the right to one’s body, among many other important issues. Despite the uncertainties created by the pandemic, the club has achieved more than one can fathom.
During its initial months, the club organised a campaign around ‘Sexism in School’ to highlight internalized sexism prevalent in schools. Many young women came forward and shared their experiences of sexism. Slowly, this conversation sparked a movement. As part of the campaign, participants drafted an email for school authorities and held them accountable for instances of sexism. A webinar led by Dr Itisha Nagar, a renowned psychology professor at Delhi University, was also organised as part of the campaign. It provided a platform for several young women and assisted them to share their stories of struggles with patriarchy, even in the institutions that preach the importance of gender equality.
Girl Up अbaadh has also collaborated with Sachi Saheli to start Menstrual Cafe, an initiative to fight the stigma and taboo around menstruation and sex, among other issues. In their bid to enable constructive discourse about menstruation, the club organized a virtual movie screening of the Oscar-winning film ‘Period. End of Sentence’ that sheds light on how society perceives menstruation and the struggles faced by the people who menstruate in the remote areas of the country. Inspired by their will to create change, Ms Suman, the lead actor of the documentary, joined them for the screening. This was followed by a panel discussion with renowned gynaecologist & sex educator Dr Surbhi Singh.
“We’re doing as much as we can to talk about things that people shy away from talking about because we realise how important support is in times where one might feel lost. The response our campaigns get feels unreal sometimes. We are very proud of the campaign’s impact and can’t wait to see the club learn its way up!” said Siffat Kaur Arora, Vice President, Girl Up अbaadh.
In March 2021, the club collaborated with Delhi University’s Enactus Aryabhatta to organise a fundraiser, as part of their campaign, to talk about women in entrepreneurship. The fundraiser, #Gullak ( a Hindi word that translates to piggy bank), aimed to help vulnerable women of the Ravidas Camp, a slum near New Delhi’s RK Puram, to become self-sufficient and successful entrepreneurs. These women run a small business that was set up by Enactus Aryabhatta. They bake organic chips through vegetable waste called Veggitos. The initiative helped these women through uncertainties created by the pandemic that resulted in their husbands losing their jobs.
Through an offline crowdfunding initiative held at Connaught Place, project #Gullak raised Rs. 26,640 in three days. Additionally, the online fundraiser via Milaap enabled the club to raise Rs 35,200. The amount raised through the initiative helped the women to be financially independent and sustain their families.
During the second wave of coronavirus, अbaadh engaged in covid relief work. Members of the club worked tirelessly for more than two weeks and reached out to oxygen providers, hospitals, meal services and medicine suppliers to curate and verify the Delhi COVID-19 resource list - three times a day - to ensure that resources were available to those in need.
Despite mounting mental and physical exhaustion, the team managed to help people connect with blood donors, find beds for their family members and get all the necessities to survive COVID-19. अbaadh’s help desk content was shared by many influential artists from all over the world, including Priyanka Chopra and activist Andre Borges.
“I’m proud of the community for sticking by each other in these terrible times and creating the impact it has,” says Anjali Singh, President, Girl Up अbaadh.
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