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GiveHer5 x Citizens’ Archive of India

As you know, GiveHer5 is a social initiative bringing safe sanitary solutions to young women in rural areas across India. While we work towards a brighter future for thousands of women across the country, it is also important to be aware of and understand the challenges and hardships faced by women in Indian society over the years. This is why we thought it is best if we get narratives from these women themselves. For this, we are happy to announce that we are collaborating with Citizens’ Archive of India to bring you enticing and engaging stories over the next few months.

The Citizens’ Archive of India believes in preserving the legacy of memories. They aim to ‘record and archive the personal stories of Indian citizens who have witnessed India develop into the nation we see today. They also work towards developing educational and outreach programmes using these narratives to build dialogue and foster mutual understanding about the nation’s past, present, and future.’ In a nutshell, CAI seeks to educate the community, foster awareness about India’s history, while instilling a sense of pride in Indian citizens about their heritage.

What the team at Citizens’ Archive of India does:

CAI interviews people about significant events in their lives from the pre-1947 era until the present day, to preserve a link for future generations. This project goes well beyond the political – citizens tell us about their personal lives, their social lives, about the culture and community they grew up in, and how times have changed.

Through our collaboration with Citizens’ Archive of India, we look forward to unearthing personal stories of remarkable women who inspire us through their resilience, achievements and challenges faced through India’s formative nation-building years. While going through the CAI’s Instagram feed, we came across a few such stories that they have shared in the past –

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"My mother used to work for the #IndianIndependenceLeague, so when #Netaji (#SubhasChandraBose) started the #IndianNationalArmy, she became a recruiter for them, and immediately sent my sister and I to be trained in the #RaniJhansiRegiment. We had #military training and #nurses' training. We didn't immediately have uniforms, so for a while we trained in our ordinary clothes." -Lt. Rama Mehta (now Rama Khandwala), a 'rani' in the #AzadHindFauj tells us about her experiences watching the #SecondWorldWar play out in front of her eyes at #Maymyo in #Burma. Help us collect more stories like this one; go to to donate. #TheGeneration1947Project #Myanmar #NetajiSubhasChandraBose #worldwar2 #oralhistory #militaryhistory #archive #indiaat70 #womenshistorymonth

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Our first #100yearold interviewee, Mrs. Mithoo Coorlawala, attended #NewnhamCollege at the #UniversityOfCambridge from 1938-1939. Back then, they didn't award women degrees. Mrs. Coorlawala tells us how life has changed since then. "The men's colleges were so furious when two women's colleges were established, that they burnt down the gates of our college, Newnham, and also, they had a big tamasha in the marketplace. There was a lot of violence against the opening of a women's college. And (they said), 'You can have a college there if you must, but you don't get degrees.' You could study, have the same syllabus, sit for the same exams, but when you passed, you didn't get a convocation. You got your degree by post. It was not a recognized thing. It was more a 'do it if you must'. That was pretty humiliating. After a lot of agitation, they began to give degrees at a convocation, same as the men. So I went to celebrate 50 years of that." This is a photograph of Mrs. Coorlawala on the day of her convocation ceremony in 1998, 60 years after she first attended Cambridge. #OralHistory #TheGeneration1947Project

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Happy #WomensDay! For Women's Day we wanted to share the story of one of the most inspiring women we've met so far, Mrs. Sunetra Limaye (grandmother of @salonimayekar). Mrs. Limaye grew up in a modest home in #Shrivardhan in #Maharashtra, under the shadow of a conservative grandmother. Determined to study, she attended a school in far-off #Hingne on the outskirts of #Pune. The journey to school took 36 hours. The school was started by #MaharshiKarve, and was one of the first schools in the area for girls. . While you won't hear about it in the video (link below), Mrs. Limaye went on to study Mathematics and Sanskrit at a boys' college in Jaipur, subjects that were taught using English and Hindi, both of which she barely spoke. Mrs. Limaye then went on to become a teacher herself. . We hope that Mrs. Limaye inspires women everywhere to carry on against all the odds. She taught us that life's challenges are really opportunities in disguise, and we couldn't think of anyone better with whom to celebrate today. . Help us collect more stories like this one; go to to donate. . #TheGeneration1947Project #girlseducation #womenseducation #oralhistory #archive #womenshistorymonth . You can watch the video via the following link:

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Interviewer: Did you go to the races? Mrs. Bhatia: Yes, if we felt like it, we would go. But it wasn’t really about the #races. We’d go to eat chocolate cake and sandwiches at the #WillingdonClub. But once or twice, we went to the races. My father knew so much about racehorses that everyone would come to him for tips. So many people would come up to him! “Bhagwanji Bhai, tell us, Bhagwanji Bhai, tell us.” And if the horse won, they’d ask him again. He had a knack for picking winners. I must have gone to the races a few times. As such, it wasn’t allowed. Who would allow an eleven-year-old girl to go to the races? So I would wear a sari and high heeled shoes. And a picture of me, dressed like that, was printed in the #MumbaiSamachar. My grandmother was furious. She said, “So now girls from our community and our family will show up in the newspaper, is it?” . Help us collect more stories like this one; go to to donate. . You can watch the video clip for this post at: . #TheGeneration1947Project #horseracing #newspaper #photoarchive #oralhistory #archive @muesix @phozee @cakemerchant

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Citizens’ Archive of India’s Vision:

We are losing India’s first citizens everyday. For decades, Oral History has been considered an important supplement for written sources by historians the world over. Our vision is to use oral history and material memory to save our country’s cultural legacy. Oral tradition and learning form an integral part of India’s heritage. We wish to preserve the link between generations of Indians and build the country’s story through its best storytellers – its people.


For more information on Citizens’ Archive of India, visit:

Stay tuned to our blog & Instagram feed for upcoming stories from Citizens’ Archive of India, in collaboration with GiveHer5.

PS – Turn on post notifications on our Instagram feed to be notified as soon as we share a new story!

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