How Independent Are You This Independence Day?

How Independent Are You This Independence Day?

India’s current population is 1.35 billion and women constitute nearly half of it. The decreasing male-female ratio is indeed alarming but that may not change till we address our root issues. It is hard to change that just with policies and policing. Have you ever considered why and how almost one half of our population are also counted among the ‘marginalized’? How can such a huge segment of the population continue to be among the ‘marginalized’ for the last 73 years? The answer to that is not just in fighting for newer policies alone but in bringing about a transformation of culture itself. Transforming our culture is about changing prevailing mindsets from the grassroots level up and in this case that would mean challenging stereotypes birthed by patriarchal notions and norms.

Every time you raise your voice for your own freedom, to be who you are, you are also fighting for those around you. Freedom is contagious.

– Kavitha Emmanuel

So, the level of independence a woman experiences also determines the level of cultural progress in a community and this hugely affects the progress of the nation as a whole. When we talk about ‘independence’ we have to remember that it is not to create societies that are ‘individualistic’. The sort of independence that we are addressing here is about having the freedom to be, to choose and to decide. For women this sort of independence means that they need to have access to equal opportunity in all spheres. It also means that a woman’s perspectives are to be given equal weightage in all decision making processes across boardrooms and leadership teams. This can happen only when we radically change the very male-oriented definitions of leadership and include women as leaders in all avenues.

Every woman should feel the freedom to lead her own life, make her own choices. Every woman within the structures of families should be a leader still in her own right and not be pushed to a corner when it comes to decision making.

Freedom Is Our Birth-Right

Leadership positions are easily offered today for women at the workplace but is she still that vivacious leader when she comes home? True cultural transformation is to see women and men as inter-independent individuals in families and within communities. This means that each individual is a person in their own right even within a family but there is also a healthy mutual sharing of lives. Marriage should be seen as a merging of dreams and visions. Patriarchal norms have so submerged our subconscious minds and thinking patterns that giving up their decision making rights comes as second-nature to women.

As Indian women, our true celebration begins when we can boldly speak up for what is truly ours. Freedom is our birth-right. It is true that we have come to experience more freedom today than our predecessors. Always remember that every time you raise your voice for your own freedom, to be who you are, you are also fighting for those around you. Freedom is contagious. Are you determined to fight for your freedom? In doing so the others will experience it too.

So, don’t stay silent when you face any injustice. Speak up. When you need help, ask for it. Be free. Be yourself!

Jai Hind!

Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women Of Worth, India. She is an advocate for women’s issues and believes that every individual is unique and intrinsically valuable.

Balance for Better. The Way Forward!

Balance for Better. The Way Forward!

Welcome to women’s history month!

It is always the highlight of every year around this time for us at WOW to celebrate who we are as women, anticipate the changes that are yet to be and be challenged to participate in being change agents who facilitate justice and equality for women and the girl child.

Throughout 2019 our focus will be directed towards emphasizing the need to create a culture of safety for women. Safety is crucial to a person’s well-being and immensely influences one’s quality of life. Lack of safety for women stands in the way of women living lives to their full potential. It is a fact that even today the most vulnerable people group in any part of the world are women and children. Women and the girl child face the brunt of all the worst forms of deprivations. It is imperative that we press on to find solutions that ensure their safety and well-being.

Issues of safety for women and the girl child begin long before they see the light of day. It begins in the womb and continues on through their life span. Women continue to face violence in the form of ‘gendercide’ (the extermination of the female foetus or infant),  domestic violence, rape, molestation, human trafficking, sexual harassment, eve-teasing,  neglect, abandonment and more. Also, our definition of safety is incomplete if we don’t include emotional, verbal and intellectual forms of abuse.

Before we ask ourselves what we can do to address issues of safety for women and the girl child, we should consider why they face these forms of violence and what motivates or instigates the perpetrators to exhibit such behaviour.  Incidentally, we all should also acknowledge that violence against women is not just endorsed or perpetrated by men. Though the perpetrators are primarily men, women are as guilty of endorsing attitudes ,values,beliefs that perpetuate  violence against women.

When it comes to the ‘why’ question about women’s issues of safety, it ultimately boils down to how we value women and the girl child. If they are considered ‘second-class’ and if our social conditioning dictates that women are not equal to men, then it directly will reflect on how we treat them. When our mindset towards women is not challenged, we will continue to experience and endorse violence against women in its various forms. In fact gender inequality in any capacity is an act of violence against women. It is high-time we evaluate our pre-conceived notions and beliefs about women, supported by our cultural practices or traditions.

This is not to say that all our cultural values and practices are all anti-women. But every culture needs to progress to be more meaningful in its expression. And every practice or belief we hold needs to be seen through the lens of our very basic  fundamental and  constitutional right i.e every human being to  be treated with equal value and dignity. Safety is the human right of all people and not just the privilege of a few. Gender, skin colour, religion, caste, economic status or age should not be parameters that determine a person’s worth.  And progress needs to be defined by how much we are willing to give room in our belief systems for the dignity and humanity of women and the girl child.


When we recognize this need for a ‘mindset change’, we will have identified one of the fundamental reasons for violence against them. Therefore, safety for women is not an issue that stands alone. On many fronts, it is one of the worst manifestations of prevailing attitudes towards women.

We need to challenge ourselves to rethink our definitions of ‘women’s empowerment’. We need empowerment that starts from within – where we educate a woman to recognize her value and worth. But this is only half the work done. The other half is with how we educate boys and men. Teaching them to respect women as equals is crucial. We don’t have real safety if our concepts of safety is defined by the restrictions we place on women. As long as we hear comments like, ‘what was she wearing when this happened?’ or “why did she go out that late?’ we are setting false or weak standards for a woman’s safety. True empowerment will take into consideration both obvious and hidden factors that shape and mould our attitude towards women. It is in accepting, endorsing and promoting the equality of women in all spheres that genuine safety is birthed. The idea that women are equal needs to span across boardrooms to public offices to schools and colleges.  The idea then has to become our posture towards women and the girl child. When we truly begin to acknowledge the equality of women in our attitudes and mind-set we will rise above finding symptomatic solutions to women’s safety.

In keeping with this year’s IWD theme, #balanceforbetter, if balance has to be achieved, men need to be part of the change process.  If organisations have to grow, the quickest, fastest, and smartest way is to invest in developing women, creating conducive environments and introducing  equitable work place policies. Lasting change can happen only when society as a whole is transformed inside out. This means change at the individual level as well as at the systemic levels. Let not history document how even this generation failed to make a dent in the dream of an equitable world.


Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women Of Worth, India. She is an advocate for women’s issues and believes that every individual is unique and intrinsically valuable.


Directors Note – “She Leads”

Kavitha Emmanuel, Founder & Director of Women of Worth writes to fill in on some of the advances WOW has seen this year of which WOW’s leadership empowerment campaign takes the spot light. She also shares her experience on being a leader herself on this unfeigned note that we bring to you right from her desk.
 Women of Worth’s latest campaign “She Leads’ is a campaign that hopes to motivate and mentor the next generation of women with leadership potential to stop at nothing and scale with confidence those heights which are rightfully theirs. Through SHE LEADS we hope to smash the barriers that limit women’s potential by nurturing in young women a resilience and conviction to reach the top without holding back.
As the implementing partners of this campaign initiated by the British Deputy High Commission, Chennai and supported by The Madras Chamber for Commerce and Industry, we were invited to participate and present SHE LEADS at the tech summit held in New Delhi on November. The Summit was inaugurated by Narendra Modi, our hon’ble Prime Minister and Teresa May,  Prime Minister of UK. It was a landmark event indeed and I was happy to be there to introduce our new campaign to business owners, politicians, entrepreneurs and students who were at the summit.
At the session on Women In Leadership, an 18 year old student took me by surprise when she asked this one question to the panel of women leaders: “You have all shared about your great moments. But I want to know about your failures and your struggles on your way up here.” My immediate thought was, “here is a leader in the making!’
As leaders, we don’t often talk about our failures and our challenges. We try to hide behind our great moments to escape the shame of those moments we wished we were dead! I have had my share of failures. I still struggle with insecurities of not feeling capable enough to lead. I see people more gifted and talented than I am. I do struggle with feelings of jealousy and sometimes I do give up thinking I am not good enough. I am afraid of crowds. I hate public speaking. I do get depressed when I goof up a speech or when an event falls flat. And then there are those mistakes that have become life lessons.  I am not always confident even if I look that way. I come across to people as a bold and confident person. But on the inside I am often fearful. To me personally what gives me the courage to move on is my faith. My faith in a God-ordained destiny helps me walk through tough and discouraging times.
The secret about being a leader is not that you don’t fail or feel weak. But that you develop in you the resilience and tenacity to overcome all barriers that try to stop you from moving forward. Every experience you go through becomes your teacher. Failures become your stepping stones to success. Your failures make you richer if you will be open to learning from them. And it is not forbidden to talk to a friend about your failures or insecurities. It is normal to feel inadequate or fearful. It is normal to feel like you want to give up half way through a project. But what is crucial is that we don’t stay there in that moment but gather the courage to pick ourselves up and press on towards our goals.

Dec 2015 – Chennai Flood Relief

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Thank you for responding to WOW’s email appeal to support people affected by floods in Chennai. WOW was able to respond to the immediate needs of people in Chennai and Cuddalore, by donating blankets, clean drinking water, donating to flood relief and rescue projects in the city. Through your generous contribution we were able to touch the lives of about 500 people and respond to their urgent needs.

Since our last request, Chennai experienced more devastation through continual torrents of rain for more than a week. The situation in Chennai is unprecedented and people in the city were completely horrified by a disaster of this proportion. Chennai was totally unprepared to deal with rain of this magnitude which has left many low-income families without food, possessions, or any place to call home.

The Focus – Health and Hygiene

We have initiated a process to address the needs of women and children in a few select areas with low-income groups in places like Ramavaram, Perumgudi, Washermapet and Kilpauk. To start with, we have a goal of handing out Hygiene Kits with items like soap, disinfectants, Mosquito Repellent, tooth paste, tooth brush, diapers, sanitary napkins, underwear, first-aid kit etc

Personal Hygiene for Women

  • Soaps
  • Disinfectant (Dettol or Savlon)
  • Tooth brush & paste
  • Underwear
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Energy Drink (Horlicks)

First Aid for the family

  • Electrolyte (to prevent dehydration)
  • Band-aids
  • Odomos (mosquito repellent)
  • Whitefields antibacterial Foot ointment

Additional items for families with kids

  • Diapers
  • Baby sweaters, blankets and clothes

Medical Camp:

We are also rallying a group of specialized doctors to meet the rising need for medical attention at the moment. Flooding and stagnation has left the city’s residents at great risk of contracting air-borne and water-borne diseases. Our priority is to look out for the health of women and children.

We wish to inform those of you who generously responded to our earlier appeal that we will be directing all the relief funds towards these efforts. We will soon be sending you a detailed report on how your money was spent as WOW team is busy responding to the on-going situation in Chennai.

WOW is looking for individual and corporate partnerships for its mission to provide hygiene and health needs for women and children of low-income groups.

Please be assured that all the donations received in kind or cash will be used appropriately. The donors will receive due acknowledgement along with a report on how the donation was used.

Ways To Give

Donate In Kind

To donate in kind by supplying us with materials needed for the hygiene kit please write to

Donate From Within India

Online Transfer Details:

Account Name: Women of Worth – A unit of Provide
Account Number: 50100113961963
Bank: HDFC Bank Ltd, Kottivakkam, HDFC0000500

Donate Via Cheques:
To be drawn in favour of Women of Worth – A Unit of Provide

Donate From Overseas

Please write to

Nov 2015 – WOW’s Chennai Flood Relief


Dear Friends and Supporters,

Many of you have been inquiring about the devastation the monsoon rains have caused here in Chennai. We truly appreciate your concern.

The much awaited monsoon which was expected to cool the city and fill its water reservoirs ended up causing a lot of damage to people and property.

Chennai has received the highest rainfall in the last 10 years. Due to severe flooding people from various parts of the city were evacuated with rescue boats. Though there are many proactive Government and Non-Profit led relief initiatives to help restore the loss, it is somehow never enough at such a time as this.


WOW would like to respond to the situation by doing our bit here by providing blankets, mats, tarpaulin covers to people in some of the badly affected areas surrounding the WOW office and especially in the Home where we run our Rehabilitation project.  Due to severe flooding the Home has been inaccessible to our staff for the last 5 days. This home houses around 300 girls and we are in need of blankets and hygiene kits. We also hope to conduct a couple of medical camps in the weeks to come to respond to expected bouts of Malaria, Dengue and other Viral Flu common during this season.

Here is a quick glance at the immediate needs:
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You will receive due acknowledgement and a report with pictures detailing how your contribution was used.

If you would like to donate towards this monsoon relief project, kindly use the following methods:

Local Funds (within India):

Online Transfer Details:
Account Name: Women of Worth – A unit of Provide
Account Number: 50100113961963
Bank: HDFC Bank Ltd, Kottivakkam, HDFC0000500

To be drawn in favour of Women of Worth – A Unit of Provide


Foreign Contributions:

Please write to

Look forward to your generous gesture!

Seen above are images of stagnant water outside the Home.
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