Executive Director, YP Foundation
Manak is a feminist, queer activist who works on issues of gender justice, sexuality rights, health equity and inclusive education.
Manak is part of the women's rights and queer rights movement in India and currently leads The YP Foundation. This organisation develops young people's rights-based, feminist and intersectional leadership of social change.
CEO and President, Breakthrough
Sohini Bhattacharya is an intrepid intrapreneur and social change enthusiast who has 25+ years of experience in the development sector. Currently, she is CEO & President at Breakthrough, a transnational organization working in the U.S. and India using multi-media, popular culture, leadership development, and community engagement strategies to prevent gender-based violence. Breakthrough works with 400,000 adolescents and 12,000 women and men across 5 states of India.
Sohini joined Breakthrough as a consultant in 2010, as the Resource Mobilisation head and helped the organization scale up its annual budget from 150,000 USD to 2.5 million in 2016. She joined Breakthrough full-time in 2014 and became the CEO when the founder and president decided to step down in 2017. As part of the Global Management Team, she also contributed significantly to the strategy for an initial growth phase of the organization from 2012-2016. At the same time, she also worked as the India Strategy Consultant in a start-up – the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), a unique platform for and by people interested in Venture Philanthropy, across India, Japan, and Greater China.
Feminist Activist, Advisor, Sangat
Kamla Bhasin has engaged with issues related to development, gender, education, media and others since 1970. She wears different hats from being an advisor to a feminist organisation such as Sangat and JAGORI, to coordinating One Billion Rising, a global campaign to end violence against women and girls in South Asia and Co-Chair of the worldwide network Peace Women Across the Globe; and member of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR). She deeply engages with issues related to gender, development, peace, identity politics, militarization, human rights and democracy.
She seeks to explore and articulate connections between these issues and promote synergies between different movements. She is committed to the creation of a peaceful, democratic and pluralist South Asia.
Bharat is a specialist in the area of Education, Gender and Communication with more than three decades of experience around programming, research, and training. He has been associated with Vishakha right from the foundation and has led most of the major programs in there.
Executive Director, Point of View
Bishakha Datta works on gender and sexuality in digital spaces, runs the non-profit Point of View in Mumbai, writes and makes non-fiction films, and is part of the Wikipedia family. In all her work, Bishakha explores marginal, invisible, and silenced points of view - or those considered illegitimate.
Since 2015, Bishakha has led Point of View’s flagship program on gender, sexuality and technology which equips and enables women, girls, trans and non-binary people to inhabit digital spaces – freely and fearlessly. Bishakha, who was a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation (of wikipedia fame), is currently on the board of the global non-profit Association for Progressive Communication.
Founder & CEO of Red Dot Foundation (India) and President of Red Dot Foundation Global (USA)
Elsa Marie D’Silva is the Founder & CEO of Red Dot Foundation (India) and President of Red Dot Foundation Global (USA). Its platform Safecity crowdsources personal experiences of sexual violence and abuse in public spaces. Since Safecity started in Dec 2012, it has become the most extensive crowd map on the issue in India and abroad. She is one of BBC Hindi’s 100 Women.
She has won several awards including Government of India Niti Aayog’s #WomenTransformingIndia award and The Digital Woman Award in Social Impact by SheThePeople. In 2017, she was awarded the Global Leadership Award by Vital Voices in the presence of Secretary Hillary Clinton. She is also the recipient of Gold Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year - Government or Non-Profit -10 or Less Employees in 2016.
Chief Operating Officer, The Naz Foundation
Kalyani Subramanyam is the Chief Operating Officer at The Naz Foundation (India) Trust. She joined The Naz Foundation (India) Trust, a New Delhi based NGO working on issues of HIV and Sexuality in 2003. She has coordinated the Care Program at Naz- inputting into the Naz Care Home and the Home-Based Care program. She has conducted several training sessions on HIV Care, issues of Children Living with HIV and life skills.
As a strong advocate for women’s rights, she has been responsible for the development of the ‘Young People’s Initiative’ (previously known as ‘Goal’ program): Young People’s Initiative has reached out to more than 1,15,000 girls across the country. She was honored with the Life Time Achievement Award at the Global Goal Summit, 2017 for her commitment to providing safe spaces for girls to play and providing them with life skills education.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of Samvada since 1992 and has been instrumental in reinventing the organisation in response to the changing needs of young people in the Indian society.
Today, Samvada is an unique amalgamation of 8 youth resource centres for youth leadership building. She is currently involved in helping corporations build inclusive workspaces, strengthen gender and caste diversity and develop strategies and competencies for diversity management.
Since January 2019, she has been a Visiting Faculty at the Azim Premji University where she teaches courses on Gender & work and Programme Planning and Monitoring as a part of the M.A. programme in Development Studies.
Founder Trustee, The Ant
Jennifer, aka Jenny, is a trained social worker, alumni of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and an author. She has been working in the northeast region of India for over two decades. From co-founding the ant, an NGO working for rural development, to heading it as Executive Director from 1996-2016, She has come a long way.Liang is currently involved in IDeA, an initiative of the ant to strengthen the voluntary sector in Northeast India.
Former JNUSU VP
Shehla Rashid Shora is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Jawaharlal Nehru University and former Vice-President of the JNU Students' Union. She is a known advocate of civil rights, women's rights, educational and digital rights.
In 2018, Shehla started a global conversation on women's mental health issues when she shared her own experience with Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a little known condition that deeply affects women's mental health prior to menstruation. Her own experience of speaking out as a woman from a minority community brings in an added dimension to her activism.
#SteelFlyoverBeda, #ChukBukuBeku, #BusBhagyaBeku and #BekuBedaSanthe are few of campaigns where Tara Krishnaswamy has been instrumental in panning it out as part of the initiative Citizens of Bengaluru.
She wears many hats from being a co-founder of Shakti, a pan-India organisation working on getting more women into state assemblies and parliament to being a co-convenor of the Nirbhaya Fund Round Table, Hyderabad for the administration of the Nirbhaya Fund.
General Secretary, Bebaak Collective
Hasina Khan is the founding member of Bebaak Collective (Voice of Fearless). Bebaak Collective (Voices of the Fearless) is a campaign group primarily functioning from Mumbai and fighting against fundamentalism and repressive forces from an intersectional feminist perspective. Some of the instrumental works of Bebaak Collective are campaign against unilateral triple talaq and is a petitioner in Supreme Court of India to abolish unilateral Triple Talaq. A national conference named “Musalman Auroton ki Awaz: Sadak se Sansand Tak” (Voice of Muslim Women: From streets to Parliament) in Delhi in February 2016, the release of the national manifesto named “Nafrat Ke Khilaf: Bekhaufi ka Elaan” by a collaboration of Muslim Women’s groups demanding constitutional safeguarding of rights of minority communities under the new government.
She was an active member of Awaaz-e-Niswaan, an organization that empowers Muslim women, in Mumbai, to make their voices heard and to demand their rights. She is on the advisory council of the international solidarity network; namely, Women Living Under Muslim Law and is a member of an autonomous non-funded feminist group, Forum Against Oppression of Women. As a part of this work, she conceptualized a documentary movie ‘Tiryaaq’ which encapsulates the journeys of grassroots organizations and the leaders working in the community.
Founder-Director, Feminism In India
Japleen smashes the patriarchy for a living! She is the founder-director & editor-in-chief of Feminism in India (FII), an award-winning digital feminist media platform. She is also a TEDx speaker and was recognised as a Young Innovator in 2018 by World Summit Awards. Japleen has Masters and M.Phil degrees in German Studies and used to be a German language lecturer at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Amity University, Noida. Prior to starting FII, she worked with multiple women’s rights NGOs in India like Breakthrough India and Point of View. She has also worked with Freedom House, a non-profit based in the USA, on a research report and advocacy campaign on online violence against women. She was featured by The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in a book on ‘Women in Tech’ for her work at FII and facilitated by Maneka Gandhi and Ministry of Women & Child Development, to name a few as Web Wonder Woman. She has also been recognised by the Swedish Foreign Minister for her work on the gender gap on Wikipedia. Currently, Japleen oversees the strategic vision and growth at FII. She likes to garden, travel, hike, swim and cycle and is slowly moving towards a sustainable lifestyle.
India Lead Gender at Work
Jyotsna Siddharth is an actor, intersectional artist, activist and writer. They have worked with several non-profits, bilateral organizations and are currently an India Lead for Gender At Work. Jyotsna's praxis spreads across intersections of social, art, activism, theatre, acting, development, caste-gender, feminist and queer spaces. They are a co-founder of Sive (2017), founder of Project Anti Caste Love (2018), Dalit Feminism Archive (2019), Purple Library (2020), co- organized the first Indian adaptation of ‘A Rapist in Your Way’- the Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis in 2019, Delhi. Jyotsna has Masters in Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Social Anthropology from School of Oriental and African Studies, London. They are a recipient of Chevening Scholarship, UK (2014).
Meera Vijayann is an independent journalist and writer of Indian origin based in Washington D.C. She has contributed to national and international discussions on gender rights and sexual violence in India. Her reportage and essays have appeared in Forbes, The Guardian, Entropy, Folks magazine, and other outlets.
In 2013, Vijayann won the CNN IBN Citizen Journalism Award for her reportage on the protests that followed the Delhi Gang Rape. Following her 2014 TED talk on finding a voice against sexual violence, she has been involved in encouraging survivors of sexual abuse across the world to speak out for justice. In 2017, Vijayann spent time as a Global Journalism fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs reporting how immigration and health policies affect men and women in the US and Canada. Currently, she focuses on how issues at the intersection of gender and health affect women and marginalized communities.
Nausheen is a filmmaker and video producer whose work focuses on social justice and human rights. She has been documenting unrest in the Kashmir region since 2017, highlighting the effects of armed conflict on the mental health of women and children. She is currently working on a documentary about the largest pro-constitution protests in post-independent India against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The film emphasises on Shaheen Bagh: a women-led, twenty four hour, sit-in protest that emerged from her alma mater, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi in December 2019. Through the documentary, she explores her religious and gender identity in light of the recent political developments in India. Nausheen aspires to use her craft to talk about difficult issues and bring them to the forefront of global discourse, inspiring people to challenge their social constructs. Through her work, she wants to sensitise her audience to humanitarian issues and spark change in the way we perceive each other.
Founder and Executive Director, Rising Flames
Nidhi Goyal is a disabled feminist activist from India working on disability rights and gender justice. She is the founder and Executive director of the National Award-winning Indian non-profit organisation Rising Flame which works for women and youth with disabilities.
For over a decade, Nidhi has been committed to changing lives of persons with disabilities and has worked with a range of national and global women’s rights, disability rights, and human rights organizations including Point of View, Human Rights Watch and Crea to name a few. Nidhi’s work spans research, writing, training, campaigns, advocacy, and art. She works to raise the profile of issues at the intersection of disability and gender through op-eds, journal articles, and lectures in national and international forums. Nidhi is also India’s first female disabled stand-up comedian and uses humour to challenge prevailing notions about disability and gender.
Professor and HoD, Women's Studies Department, Gauhati University
Prof. Polly Vauquline is the HoD in the Department of Women’s Studies, Gauhati University. Her
area of specialisations is Gender Geography, Women’s Studies, Gender & climate change,
Ecofeminism and Gender Based Violence. She has published various papers in international and
national publications as well as presented papers in national and international seminars namely USA,
Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Bhutan. She is affiliated to various academic and professional
associations. She has presented her research work in the USA, Spain, Sweden, Singapore etc. She
completed research projects on; Surrogacy, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, Socio-
Cultural, Political and Economic Status of Women of North-East India and Water Conservation and
Menstrual Hygiene Management amongst Female Student of Assam. At present she is engaged with
a collaborative International research project as a Research Consultant with UN Women, Unilever and
McLeod Russel on Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls Programme in Assam in the Tea
Estates of Assam. She was awarded the Gender, Place and Culture Award 2009, for new and
Emerging Scholars, by Gender, Place and Culture, A Journal of Feminist Geography, by Routledge,
Taylor & Francis Group.Professor and HoD, Women's Studies Department, Gauhati University
Founder, Atijeevan Foundation
Pragya Prasun is an Acid attack survivor turned activist and social worker who has been fighting for providing relief and rehabilitation to her fellow acid attack and Burn survivors for the past 7+ years now. She is the founder of "Atijeevan Foundation" an NGO that apart from facilitating free of cost surgeries and other non surgical procedures also provides avenues for income generation to several Acid Attack and Burn survivors. Atijeevan trains them to create handicraft products, provides them skill and vocational training and place them in the industry as per their capability.For her various exemplary work in the field of social welfare, she is recipient of several Indian and International awards and accolades. Pragya is Mascot and Ambassador of Pinkathon, Ambassador of Acid Survivors Foundation of India (ASFI) South India Chapter.
Artist and Documentarian, Aravani Art Project
Shanthi is a transgender artist and activist working towards justice, rights and equality for the LGBTQIA community in India. She has previously worked as a Radio Jockey along with Radio Active - a community based radio station in Bangalore. Shanthi enjoys poetry and sometimes gets to perform when she addresses audiences during sensitisation. She gives sensitisation and awareness talks at LGBTQIA events, art exhibitions, schools, corporates and public forums. Shanthi is also an important facilitator during the Aravani Art Project’s public art happenings throughout India. She ensures that passers by and collaborators enjoy a full engagement with their local transgender community. Her work as a principal artist and a documentarian with the Aravani Art Project, has given her the power to mix art and activism together to contribute to changing local perception within her own community as well as in local communities across India.
CEO & MD, Toolbox India
Vijaya Balaji joined Toolbox India in 2011 and in her role as CEO she has expanded Toolbox India’s outreach to 275+ NPOs, 325 + projects and over 650 volunteers across India. Vijaya provides strategic direction to all Toolbox India's projects and chairs “Digital Dialogues @ toolbox INDIA” drawing on sector experience and insights. She is a part of many think tanks and collaborations in the development sector including India@75, Social Venture Partners, and Asia Venture Philanthropy Network. She is an evaluator for the global Echoing Green Fellowship. She has incubated Social Lens, a Social Purpose Organization that aims to develop OD solutions for the Social Development Sector. Vijaya has also worked in the Private Education Sector, developing curriculum and guiding students in the theory of knowledge.
Priya is the Lead for Gender Justice and Persons with Disabilities Clusters within The Azim Premji Philanthropy.Priya has worked with The Philanthropy for over four years now in various capacities – Finance, Programmes, Portfolio Lead and now Cluster Lead for two of the largest clusters.A Chartered Accountant by Profession, Priya has spent the first few years of her career at Deloitte, EY and Infosys. She has also worked as a Financial Analyst in one of the start-ups of Nadathur Holdings. She soon realised that she has more interest in development issues and spent about 10 years with the British Government in India, working on Healthcare and Life Sciences as a National Lead. Priya holds deep empathy and connects with the vulnerable particularly with women and girls who are survivors of gender-based violence and abuse. An avid reader of the different waves of Feminism the world has seen, student of a Masters in Gender and Women's Studies, TEDx Speaker and traveller, Priya tries to learn Carnatic music (intermittently) in her spare time. She feels she is able to follow every dream purely because of her dedicated fitness walks, exercise and the Universal Energy – Reiki!