What is Shakti, where are we now, and where we're going:
How We Aim to Give Women Shakti
Access to Justice. From the start, this has been the core of Shakti’s work. The name Shakti means strength, because what we believe makes someone strong is their ability to access justice. Shakti began when the founder – Meghana Chandra – recognized that Indian women with low levels of literacy have long been deprived of access to the right information and resources. This hinders them from taking action when they face issues such as domestic violence, rape, child abuse, or gender discrimination.
Shakti is a nonprofit start-up based in Bengaluru, India that works to change this status quo.
So far, Shakti has been working to help survivors of domestic violence in Bengaluru and hoping to soon expand to other related issues faced by women. Using the high mobile penetration rate in India, Shakti reaches out to women who are otherwise cut off from the legal system. Many women who are being domestically abused don’t know or understand their rights or the options available to them. Without access to legal help, counseling, and other resources, they are unable to seek help in whatever way they feel is best for their situation. Shakti strives to empower these women and give them agency to seek relief.
Shakti has developed audio content that provides legal information, plans of action, and direct referrals to existing service providers in the areas of legal and public health. Women can access this content by simply dialing a number on their phone and navigating an automated voice response system. We are partnering with institutions like the NIMHANS Center for Wellbeing, who frequently interact with women that have experienced issues like domestic violence, to make women aware of the existence of this phone number. In our pilot phase over the next few months, we will be testing our product with the help of our partners. During the testing phase, we aim to collect data from the very women we aim to support and use their feedback to finalize the design of our content and how we deliver it.
While Shakti currently focuses on domestic violence, we plan to expand to other issues over the next few years, such as workplace harassment or rape. Thanks to support from the University of Chicago, TATA Centre for Development, our mentors, and our Indian partners, our team has doubled to include two full-time staff on the ground, we have secured partnerships with eight institutions, and we are close to launching the toll-free number. We couldn’t have done it without their support, and we look forward to expanding our organization and welcoming new team members to continue fighting for women’s access to justice, regardless of their literacy levels.