The Sadbhavana Trust’s leadership-building programmes have been paving the way for girls and young women to become feminist role models in their neighbourhoods. We have built leadership qualities in them primarily through perspective building on gender issues and digital literacy sessions.
Since 2009, approximately 450 women and girls have benefited from our basic and advanced leadership-building courses, with graduates going on to effect changes in their own lives as well as those of others around them.
Course participants have been able to fight for their rights within the private and public domains. By continuing to emerge from their homes to receive training from Sadbhavana Trust, they have been able to break the constricting stereotypes that serve to restrict mobility for girls and women. By sharing what they learn in their training, they impart information and knowledge to their families and gain their trust and respect in return.
Samreen Hussainabad, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2013-2014
Samreen is from Husainganj, Lucknow. Her four brothers were very discouraging of her ambition to become a journalist but she did not let that get in the way of pursuing her dream. Despite the lack of support at home, she studied for a degree in Mass Communications while simultaneously working at the Sadbhavana Trust. She has realised that her long-term goal is to inspire women to break free from the stereotypes that keep them confined to their homes. Samreen’s family were not aware about her pursuing her master’s along with the job until very recently. She identified her need to earn that degree on her own terms and has thus dramatically altered the power structure at home she is now the family’s go-to person for help and advice, on everything ranging from inter-personal dynamics to household logistics.
Our participants challenge the widely prevalent idea that girls and women from marginalised sections do not need to – or want to enter the fields of education and employment. They do so by following through on their dreams of securing jobs or creating livelihoods in both the formal and informal sectors. They teach or work in real estate, establish their own film studio, do Chikankari embroidery or tailoring, or establish small businesses that they run out of their homes or mohallas.
Shagufta Akbarnagar, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2016-2017
Shagufta is from Akbarnagar, Lucknow. She was brought up to believe that being a girl meant she would not add any value to the family or the community. Refusing to buy into that idea, she defied her family and finished her education. Now a teacher, she motivates her students to chase their dreams. Shagufta realised that a patriarchal society always restrains women when it comes to attaining financial independence. She wanted to break that stereotype and build an example for the children she teaches and other community girls and women like her.
Zoya Dubagga, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2017-2018
Zoya is from Dubagga, Lucknow. She received a bachelor’s degree in commerce, topping her class in the process. She is currently preparing to take the UPSC examination as she dreams of becoming an IAS officer. Additionally, she is a trainer for various workshops that the Sadbhavana Trust conducts. Her life’s journey took a new turn when she learned to look at society’s issues concerning gender disparity. Zoya firmly believes that education is the only path to a secure future for any girl or woman.
It is commonplace in this country for girls to be pressured into marrying suitors ‘arranged’ by their families. Our participants have been able to push back and postpone their marriages until they settled in their careers and/or found someone of their own choice. They realise the need to claim agency with regard to their bodily autonomy and have been able to make that space for themselves.
Neha Singh, Daliganj, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2018-2019
Neha is from Daliganj, Lucknow. While studying for a college degree, her family began to pressure her to get married. Her recourse was to take admission at a Chikankari centre and then join The Sadbhavana Trust leadership building programme where she received training on gender perspective-building and technical skill development. This gave her the confidence to stand up to her family and delay her marriage. Today, she is confident that she can take her life decisions independently.
Violence is prevalent across all communities. Attending training sessions on legal matters, counselling of survivors, visiting police stations and courts of law have helped participants identify the different kinds of gender-based violence. It also empowers them to take the necessary steps when required to address such cases in their own lives as well as in their community. They have also run online and offline campaigns on the subject. This in turn has helped them build resilience to GBV over the long term with an attitude of zero tolerance.
Huma, Campbell Road, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2018-2019
Huma is from Campbell Road, Lucknow. A survivor of domestic violence, she is an active participant in community intervention when it comes to gender-based violence. Community girls and women rely on her to solve any problems they might be facing in their neighbourhood with regard to public welfare. She has received multiple training sessions on feminist perspective-building as well as on legal counselling. She now leads a leadership-building course and inspires participants to be feminist advocates of change against GBV at the ground level.
Our participants identify the socio-economic issues of the areas they live in. They take on the responsibility of helping their neighbours resolve issues with regard to public services, gender-based violence or access to government entitlements. This involvement with local stakeholders helps them create harmony and build trust within the community. It also helps them form strong friendships, working together as one and making people inclined to value their inputs. When it comes to impact, Sadbhavana Trust believes in the changes our girls and women make in themselves, in the lives of their family and friends, and in the neighbourhoods they live in. Impact, no matter how big or small in terms of its manifestation, is a reflection of the participant’s growth towards living on her own terms.
One of our biggest areas of impact is the Dangal group, our alumni who are our pillars of strength. Every year a group of girls and young women graduate from the Sadbhavana Trust’s basic and advanced feminist leadership-building programs. A total of 50 young women leaders now form the Dangal (literally, ‘wrestling’) group.
These young women are role models for their families and the community. After being trained in feminist perspective-building and technical skill-building, they are able to pursue their education or seek employment, successfully choosing alternative pathways in life separate from marriage. Some of them balance both household work and their jobs after getting married and are able to negotiate their presence in public and private spaces on their own terms. These young girls and women also act as nodal points in the communities and become feminist icons, sharing a sisterhood that helps them support each other.
They remain connected through a WhatsApp group, meeting once a year for a reunion to celebrate their feminist friendship and solidarity. Over the years they have established mutual trust and a safe space that the organisation facilitated for them. The group is also used as a network pool where they share information with their peers, which gives them the opportunity to be constantly updated about various career opportunities that they can explore according to their area of interest.
Shweda Jahan Garhi Kanaura, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch 2016-2017
Shweda lives in a part of Lucknow where it is almost unthinkable for women to step out of their homes to pursue their passion. Yet, she found the drive to do precisely that. She wanted to be an airhostess a daring dream for someone in a family such as hers. With her mother’s support she attended Sadbhavana Trust leadership-building programme. Soon after, she found opportunities to work in the service industry. The confidence that she gained from the course made her realise she could pursue any occupation of her choice. She is now an inspiration to many in her community.
Bushra Thakurganj, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2013-2014
Bushra is an alumnus of Sadbhavana Trust’s leadership-building programme and now works at the organisation. She previously worked at a media house for digital documentation work. The course helped her increase her mobility and also made her realise that she could be a digital skill-building trainer to girls like herself. This helped her see how she could make an impact at the ground level. Bushra is a mentor to many young girls at SBT who look to her for technical guidance.
Samreen Haq & Atika Ali Campbell Road and Janta Nagari, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2014-2015
Samreen and Atika belonged to two very different households from two different areas of the city one was comparatively more affluent while the other offered more independence and mobility. They met while pursuing the leadership-building programme at Sadbhavana Trust. Their friendship is a symbol of feminist sisterhood and solidarity as they have supported each other through every phase of their lives. The leadership building program taught them the importance of having a trusted confidante and creating a safe space for women and girls.
Mantasha Indira Nagar, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2017-2018
Mantasha is a spirited field mobiliser and perspective-building trainer at Sadbhavana Trust who loves working with adolescent girls and young adult women. When she joined the leadership building programme, her family was less than supportive as she was married and had a young daughter. Still, she found the courage to stand up for herself and learned how to negotiate better in her home, also creating a work-life balance along the way. Today, her husband supports all her choices. Her opinion is always solicited before any big decisions are made in the family.
Masarrat Janta Nagari, Lucknow Leadership Building Program Batch: 2014-2015
Masarrat comes from an extremely conservative family where women are expected to stay home and pursue the ideal of perfect homemaker. However, her mother was a secret source of support, encouraging her to graduate from the Sadbhavana Trust’s leadership-building programme all the while keeping this information from her father. Soon after, Masarrat found employment in a government hospital as a data entry officer. When she first joined her place of work, she found a man working beside her who had made an error while working on Microsoft Excel. She promptly corrected him, confident of working in a male-dominated working environment without inhibitions. This intrepid attitude has made Masarrat a role model in her locality.