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Shifting Sands: from silence to speech

“Why should I marry my Mamu’s son (Maternal Uncle)? Isn’t he my brother? Won’t that create problems for my children’s health?” says Salma in a hamlet. There is no road to take you there. No electricity. No water. Its just forty families living here by themselves.

“I will study and get myself a job. I don’t want to be dependent or be dominated. Not because he brings home the bread!” says Sweety, living in a hamlet with her husband and his father! Sweety is in the final year of Graduation – one and only in her hamlet!

These are Stories from the remotest parts of the Indian Desert. I met 13 change carriers in the whole of last week. I have been on a project documenting 13 girls who have shown courage to take change beyond them. They took to education and today each one of them is negotiating her space in the male-dominated and feudalistic society of Rajasthan.

“ You make time. No one gives you time”, says Sweety when asked how she manages to study with all the household chores and work at the Farm.

“ I want to be a policewoman! I want to protect and safe guard the women of the village,” says Basanti, who once only knew to graze sheep in the field. Today, she is taking her High School exams at 20.

Imagine how audacious these girls have been! They journeys have been marked with courage and strength at every step they have taken. They have broken several Social Norms, starting a cycle of change –their decision to study, to convincing their parents, to negotiating their age of marriage from norm of 12 to 20, negotiating their first child, getting themselves a job.

Just to set the context: Being born as girls in a patriarchal society their fate was submitted to a lifelong subservience – first to the father and brother and later to the men they were to be married off to. They were to be illiterate, grazing sheep, helping with the household chores, looking after their younger siblings and later their own little ones, working at their fields - A life of unsaid words. A life of Silence.

But today this life is a little different. It is the courage of these women and their families who have supported them(sometimes no negation and silence is the biggest support). Here, starts their journey to learn further, learn new with newer perspectives and newer references and newer tools. Along the entire course, they, expanding the canvasses of their lives with new rational and logic and generational knowledge of tradition and culture.

A successful change is often beyond the seen and beyond heard. It goes deep down in both the change-maker and the change-carrier. Often it is only to be felt first by the people around and for them to join the movement.
Today, you read these stories. You would have never heard of them otherwise, if it weren’t for Pulsewire!

Need I say more?


dnayyar's picture

A day Late

I know I am a day late! I was in the interiors of the Thar, the whole of last week, with little connectivity... I have been documenting 13 girls girls like I mentioned in the post. It has been a week of learning and sharing!!! and I am glad to be sharing this with all of you here. It is amazing to see what confidence and strength these girls have shown.

This moment makes me extremely proud and humbled that I have the privilege of bringing forth these stories of change.

Would love to hear from you!


mirette's picture


These are encouraging stories Deepika, thanks for sharing. Can you tell us more about what motivated the girls to continue their education?

Adepeju's picture

Well done dnayyar I love to

Well done dnayyar

I love to hear the stories of women who are determine to rise against all odds. Their stories warm my heart and yes you are right, without WP i wldnt be hearing about these strong ladies.

Tari Andrea's picture

Great experience

Dear Deepika,

It's nice to read those stories that you have written for telling us how struggle them to overcome their own life! What a great explanation from you. I amazed with the 13 girls who had survived to choose what's the best for themselves, they made great effort by taking education, joining in some new activities, and providing more time to learn. I proud of them and also You! Thank you for sharing this. Have a great work there, always be inspire :)



M&E of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

"Be the change that you wish to change." - Mahatma Gandhi.

sallyreb's picture

Telling Women's Stories

Dear Deepika,

Thank you for sharing this essay, it was wonderful! I live so far from the Indian Desert, a world away from the experience of these girls, yet your stories bring their experience to my doorstep. You are right, I would not have heard them if it were not for PulseWire and you!


Sally Peters
Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest. ~ Georgia O’Keeffe

dnayyar's picture


Dear all

Thanks so much for such heart warming words of encouragement.

As for the detailed stories of these strong, smart, young women, I will put them up once I am through with the process of documentation entirely... there is a short film that is being made on them too.

Would love to hear from you all on the stories.

Much Love


Stella Paul's picture

Late as well

Hi Deepika

I too am quite late, finding you and reading your posts. But I had promised to read every single post on this forum - quite a daunting task - and finally I stumbled upon yours! Thank god for small mercies :)

I am happy and of course being from the same country helps in grasping it all - the work, the difficulties and the rich experience as well. I feel we can talk and discuss a lot in days to come. Meanwhile, (since I am writing this on 2nd of Oct, almost the end of VOF contest), wishing you lots of luck, both for VOF and for your project.

Stella Paul
Twitter: @stellasglobe

ccontreras's picture

Hope for these girls!

I am really looking forward to your documentary of these girls. I really want to know what happens in the end. I am so excited to see how they want to step out of the norm to follow their own dreams. And I am glad they have someone like you to lead the way! Cheers!

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

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