Every year on August 19th, the world comes together to celebrate “World Humanitarian Day” (WHD), honouring exemplary humanitarian efforts from around the globe. A day that spotlights the selflessness in humanity aims at encouraging many others to support those in crisis. This year, the UN has dedicated WHD to the women humanitarians whose efforts help make the world a better place.
“Women Humanitarians hold a sense of unparalleled uniqueness, one that adds to the global momentum of female strength, power and perseverance. It is time to honour the women who have acted as first responders to the darkest hours of crisis.” – The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
In the spirit of World Humanitarian Day, we at GiveHer5 would like to shine spotlights on a few remarkable women from India.
- Bina Kalindi
Bina Kalindi had a voice that rose above that of social stigma. At a tender age of 12, instead of being a carefree child playing in the fields, she witnessed many of her friends and classmates get married. Her sister suffered two miscarriages, being a young bride herself. Distraught and determined to stop child marriage, Bina went from door to door educating and dissuading parents from getting their daughters married. Those who would refuse or not take her seriously would find themselves reported to the police. She was financially supported by the UNICEF through an organization called the UN National Child Labour Project.
“I know we are told that we should not get married before 18, I want to say that I don’t want to get married till I stand on my feet and make something of myself” – Bina Kalindi
A woman of her determination and strength deserves to be celebrated this World Humanitarian Day.
Video Credit: CNN IBN
2. KS Sarojamma
A researcher by profession, KS Sarojamma once visited Magadi, where silk traders were hiring young children to work in their factories. These children were made to work in inhumane conditions. When visiting one of the factories, Sarojamma witnessed this exploitation when she saw a young girl’s hair get caught in one of the machines, who eventually succumbed to her injuries.
Upset and moved by this, KS Sarojamma took on the big silk traders on behalf of these exploited children. Due to her determination and multiple PIL’s, she arranged for many raids leading to 800 silk factories that were shut down, saving about 3,000 children. In the process of fighting for the rights of these children, KS Sarojamma lost her husband. She used her loss as inspiration to continue her fight for the lives of countless children. Her selfless deeds are an inspiration to all of us aspiring humanitarians. She now runs a Chiguru Balvikas Sanstha that provides shelter, basic amenities and skill training for rescued girls. KS Sarojamma is known fondly by the kids as “Amma”.
3. Dr. Sunita Krishnan
“I am fighting for a new world order, a world where there’s no violation of any human being”
As a young woman, Dr. Sunita Krishnan dreamt of being a teacher to children from the slums. She was always motivated to be socially proactive, teaching dance to mentally challenged children at just age 8. Unfortunately, at the age of 15, she became a victim of gang rape by eight men. The time after the abuse was hard for her, but she was motivated to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate to society as many victims of sex trafficking as she could. To do this effectively, she set up her own NGO named Prajwala, based in Hyderabad.
Being inspired to make a change based on her own hardships and challenges, Dr. Sunita Krishnan inspires all of us at GiveHer5.
4. Urmila Chanam
Urmila Chanam has played a vital role in cracking the social barrier around menstruation in India. She founded the “Break the Silence” campaign, a social initiative aimed at educating thousands of women across India about periods, menstrual hygiene and sanitary care. By teaching over 8,000 girls over the years, she has helped reduce the spread of period taboos and stigma significantly. She uses social media effectively to spread powerful messaged through ‘Youth Ki Awaaz’ and is also a certified trainer for menstrual hygiene, gender-based violence.
Her list of achievements includes being recognized by the Vodafone Foundation as one of 50 ‘Women of Pure Wonder’ on International Women’s Day. The Women Economic Forum awarded her with an Iconic Woman award, and she also received the UNFPA National Laadli Awards for leading change through social media.
Mrs. Chanam stands as the definition of a humanitarian, who all of us should look to emulate.