If there was ever a good reason to abolish the saying “don’t quit your day job”, Srishti Bakshi would be the embodiment of it. This badass woman is a former marketing professional who was based out of Hong Kong, but decided to quit and return to her home country of India to take on a very important project.
The 30 year old is literally walking the entire length of the country, over 2300 miles in a bid to raise awareness about and fight against India’s rape and misogyny problem. According to a feature on Forbes.com, she began the 260 day journey mid-September in Kanyakumari in the south of the country, and will walk all the way up to Srinagar in the north, hoping to finish by April 2018.
It was certain high profile events, including the gang rape of a Delhi girl in 2012, as well as subsequent movements around this issue which shocked Srishti, but it was one incident in particular that motivated her to want to make a difference. A 35 year-old woman and her 14 year-old daughter were gang raped near a highway, and it made Srishti sick to her stomach.
“I lost my balance and just wanted to go home. It disgusted me. My husband said that if I felt so passionately about the subject I should do something right now,” she told Caroline Jones at Forbes.
According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, a total number of 327,394 gender specific “Crimes Against Women” were reported in 2015. This number includes 34,651 cases of rape.
After the 2012 gang rape incident, which led to major protests across the country, and international outrage about this problem being so hidden by cultural taboos and flaws in the Indian justice system, the government passed new laws with harsher punishments for rape and sexual crimes. While that is important to have embedded into national legislation, social and cultural awareness about these issues and a change in attitudes toward gender also must happen.
That is where activism like Srishti’s 2300 mile trek comes into play. To gain more attention about her journey, she launched an organization called Project Crossbow to engage girls and women to join her on this mission as she goes from city to city. She plans to conduct workshops on women’s rights and financial and digital literacy, as well as addressing health and hygiene issues with the people she meets.
“Modern Day Dandi March through India to mobilize communities to make India safer for girls and women by empowering them with financial and digital literacy. An on-ground and online movement that you can be part of and shape India’s future. We invite you to engage in this digital world movement and work towards CHANGE together,” says the description on the org’s website.
She is teaming up with other organizations, such as Google, who are providing her with resources and tool to address certain issues and demographics. For instance, in rural areas, Srishti will focus on helping women with basic literacy and numeracy skills, and in the more populated cities she will empower girls and women to know how they too can make a difference in tackling sexual crimes and gender inequality.
Her project has already gained a high-profile fan, that of the Indian President Shri Ram Nath Kovind who is supportive of her journey. Srishti plans to document her walk and present him with some of her interactions with people after she is finished.
Utilizing her marketing expertise, Srishti wants people to talk about and share her journey on social media, and participate wherever they can. There is also an app people can download to keep up with her movements, by going to the website.
According to the mission statement on the Project Crossbow website, Srishti aims to collectively clock up 1 billion steps by fellow participants and supporters in order to help India move “towards a different future for women and girls today and those born tomorrow.”
It’s one thing to be outraged about an issue, and it’s another to take action to help find a solution. The latter is exactly what Srishti is doing and she is an inspiration for all of us who want to make a change. Whatever your passion may be, you can follow in her footsteps and find a way to empower those who are most in need. Learn more about Srishti’s motivation and Project Crossbow in the video below, and be sure to follow along with her incredible journey on her website.