Growing up in cantonment areas across the country sounds wonderful until it is marred by memories of strict patriarchal upbringing. Such is the case of Shivangi Singh, an award-winning social entrepreneur who is working towards achieving Gender Equality through her social enterprise, Drishtikona – Changing Perspectives. As a bright and sensitive child, Shivangi was driven to find solutions to inequity in the world. She taught students from underprivileged background when she was 11 years old and realized the impact education can create in people’s lives. This experience motivated her foray into social work as an engineering student. She worked with organizations such as Youth Ki Awaaz, Make A Difference, Kat-Katha, The Hans India and Teach For India to make her voice heard and create positive social impact through writing, citizen journalism and teaching. Her experience at the grassroots inspired her to pursue psychology and liberal arts as she became a double post graduate. It was while pursuing Young India Fellowship from Ashoka University as a Samir Mehta Scholar that she got the opportunity to formally study gender education from some of India’s leading feminist scholars like, Urvashi Butalia and Geetanjali Chanda. This changed her course of life as all her patriarchal conditioning and suffering gave way to understanding and acceptance with the light of knowledge. Shivangi wondered if she could transfer this knowledge and her own experience in the field to the world outside.
Her graduation from the Young India Fellowship was swiftly followed by India’s Me Too movement, in the aftermath of which several Men’s Rights Activists poured vitriol online and people’s sexist mindsets became more apparent than ever. Shivangi felt this was the perfect time to launch a Gender Education Movement. Consequently, Drishtikona – Changing Perspectives was born in August 2018. Through her workshops Shivangi educates school and college students as well as professionals on gender issues. This includes but is not limited to discussing feminism, homosexuality, trans-rights and gender fluidity. So far Shivangi has successfully impacted over 5000 people across age groups in different states of India. She regularly receives emails and messages from workshop participants talking in glowing terms about the impact her workshops had on them. Shivangi believes in the importance of creating a safe environment for participants to be vulnerable and openly share their experiences hence, her workshops follow a strict no photography and mobile phones rule. It is Shivangi’s dream to take Gender Education to the center stage of education throughout school, college and office training curriculum globally. She strongly believes the world is in dire need of mandatory gender education.
Sharing an example of individual impact Shivangi recounts the story of Ravi, a corporate manager in his 50s, “At the end of one of my workshops Ravi handed me a letter. I noticed he had tears in his eyes. He wrote about his encounters with sexual harassment and thanked me for taking him on a path of healing. He realized how toxic masculinity and patriarchy hurts everyone. This depth of impact, for me, is my greatest achievement.”