5 Big Campaigns Indian Women Have Won on Change.org
Working with an open technology platform for social change is fascinating. Where else would you witness more than a million Indian users starting and signing petitions for positive social change.
Some of the most powerful campaigns on Change.org have been started by women - home makers, film makers, journalists, activists and many more. Here are some of their incredible stories, of women smartly using technology to start campaigns, and getting massive support from Change.org users across the country.
Pavithra Shetty - She Made Karnataka’s Schools Safer
In 2014, A 6-year-old girl was sexually abused by her teacher in school. Newspapers and TV channels were filled with visuals of horrified and angry parents protesting against the school. Pavithra Shetty, mother of a toddler, felt the problem was bigger--there were no basic guidelines for child safety in schools.
She started a campaign on Change.org asking the Education Minister of Karnataka to issue directives to impose security measures in all schools in the state. Her demand resonated strongly with thousands of people outraged over the abuse incident.
Within the next 6 days, the signatures on her petition grew to a lakh and a half. There was plenty of media coverage about her campaign and the response she was getting. It didn’t take much time for the minister’s office to recognise this demand and respond. For the first time ever, guidelines for child safety in schools were issued in Karnataka.
Tejaswini Naik - A Young Girl Takes On Two Massive Corporate Brands
Tejaswini one day stumbled across some obscene videos on Youtube. Each video had 8-10 year old Indian Children being made to repeat lines that were “blatantly racist, sexual and filled with hatred”. She reported the videos to Youtube. But YouTube responded saying that they could not find “a violation of their community guidelines”.
That’s when Tejaswini decided to start a petition to get those videos taken down. With 50,000 supporters adding their voice to her campaign, YouTube responded to her petition directly. They took down these videos of child abuse and terminated the account posting them.
But Tejaswini was not done yet. She had been facing a problem with a food delivery boy messaging and harassing her on WhatsApp. She was spooked and did some reading up on the issue. She got to know that this was not a one off problem and a lot of women had even been harassed, attacked and even raped by delivery boys.
She started a petition asking Zomato, “the biggest food delivery aggregator in India, to ensure background checks and training to its delivery team to provide a safe food delivery option for women.” With 30,000 people supporting her petition, the campaign was widely shared on social media. Zomato responded proactively and “committed to initiating measures with their delivery partners for background checks for delivery boys”. They even passed on their recommendation to do the same to the National Restaurants Association. Tejaswini is now getting ready to start her next petition!
Varsha - A Fight For Justice Against Goons, the Police and the Government
It isn’t just women in cities challenging norms. Varsha is an activist in Bihar and heads Parivartan Kendra, a Patna-based women's rights group. She came across Chanchal, then 19 years old, who was attacked with acid by some men who had been harassing Chanchal. Chanchal was seriously hurt and her whole life was impacted by this attack. Chanchal’s younger sister was also hurt in this attack.
Varsha started a petition asking the District Magistrate of Patna, Mr.N Shravan Kumar to take “all possible measures to ensure speedy justice for Chanchal and her sister”. including fast tracking her case in court, and providing compensation.
Varsha put up a video of Chanchal and her family talking about the incident on the petition along with a powerful narrative of the injustice and the lack of action from the Government’s side. She was able to project Chanchal’s case to the public and get their support in her fight.
It was a long drawn fight but no longer was it a single family fighting for justice. 70,000 people joined her fight. Many of them followed up with calls to the District Magistrate’s office and to the media. Varsha was able to get the DM to react positively to the case and take proactive measures to support Chanchal. Chanchal is currently undergoing treatment. The attackers who were arrested have now come out on bail. Varsha has started another petition to get public support on her demand to cancel the bail of these attackers and provided security to Chanchal and her family.
Alina - Uber Rides Are Much More Responsible Today
In December 2014, a 25 year old woman was raped by an Uber driver. This driver was a repeat offender and had already spent seven months in Tihar jail in a sexual assault case. Uber had still hired him, and as a result, he was able to attack and rape another woman.
Alina started a petition that took the fight to Uber. “If your company had run a background check and got police verification done, this crime could’ve been avoided. What's worse, you have a three step background check process in the US but not in India.
These are double standards. I started this petition because I want you to stop the double standards and mandate a 7 year background check for all Uber drivers in India like in the US.” The petition gained a lot of momentum with the media. 60,000 signatures later, it also caught Uber’s attention. Uber responded with a commitment to prioritise and commit to the safety of their customers.
Kalpana - Making Yo Yo Pay for Misogynistic ‘Entertainment’
After the Nirbhaya incident, there was a lot of outrage around the attitude towards women. This was when the rapper Honey Singh’s obscene song titled ‘choot’ got a lot of criticism.
Kalpana started a petition asking Bristol Hotel to cancel their New Year’s eve concert with Honey Singh. Kalpana felt that Honey Singh’s song had “lyrics that were unacceptable and it is because of woman-hating sentiments like these that men think that it's fine to do what they did on that bus, that December night in Delhi.
” In just 24 hours, with 2,633 signatures and a huge media wave, the hotel responded and the concert was cancelled. It was a strong message that there are serious consequences to such blatant misogynism.
These are just some of the many, many petitions that we see women starting, gathering support on and winning on Change.org every day. It is a testament to the strength, communication and resilience of these women that these kinds of petitions are amongst the fastest growing and most effective campaigns we have seen on Change.org.
The numbers have been steadily increasing - of those women who are starting powerful petitions on issues you would have normally ignored, using smart technology tools to mobilise, make their voice heard, innovate, crowd source impact.