PRIYA VARADARAJAN, DURGA INDIA

The best protection a woman can have is courage and Priya Varadarajan, founder of Durga India, helps ignite the courage we all inherently have! Described as a citizen sector initiative, Durga equips you to deter sexual harassment in public spaces through simple sensible awareness and preparedness techniques.

Priya, whose day job involves working with Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, set up Durga almost 5 years ago when she realized that women need to take charge of their own safety and needed help in building the ability to understand behaviour around them and know how to respond to inappropriate behaviour. Priya feels that “it is the biggest deterrence to crime”. She wishes this exciting journey never stops! Via her workshops, Priya gets to have a lot of interaction, arguments, disagreements and most importantly, the validation that women safety can be addressed in a simple solution-based approach along with community and stakeholder involvement.

Women inspire Priya, especially because “women are so diverse and yet so similar, with similar issues and such diverse solutions”. I asked Priya if she can share any one example of the far-reaching impact Durga is making and she talked about the change in mind-set among young boys “One of the engineering students who volunteers at Durga came up to me and said how conducting the workshops has helped him be more respectful towards women and be mindful of how he looks at them”. Priya’s love for Durga is evident, and I could feel the energy and passion as she said “Women must stand up against marginalisation, stand up for each other and remember that safety is in their control!”

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