Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let the Activism Begin!

I had begun an ambitious project last December. Through many different platforms, I had the opportunity to
interact and learn from some of the world’s most amazing women. Everything I imbibed made a huge difference to me and my life. What if I could bring all these women onto one platform, and take them to the world’s women and girls, so they could be inspired as I was? I started writing my second book – interviewing these amazing women and documenting their stories.

Last December, I remember thinking to myself one night that I wanted to use my voice in a way that it would be heard, in a way that people would know that my voice would count, too.

I was already doing that – screaming through my own blog and whining occasionally on the kind and bountiful space that another would offer me every now and then. I had friends who shared a similar passion – and needed a little space to get out there. So I decided that I’d tie in my second book with an organisation that would be the voice of girls and women everywhere.

When I started the Red Elephant Foundation, I found myself wondering why I chose the name that I did. I’m not sure how it came to be – it just happened.

I remember my memory was once likened to that of an elephant. So I decided I’d use an elephant as a reference point for the initiative since we were going to be engaged in telling stories that the world should do well to remember. I chose red – because, well, who doesn’t remember something red waving in their faces?
But that was only the initial thought. With time, I realised that there was a deeper significance to the elephantine connotation – one that life’s amazing ways found a way to make happen. And that made me realise that we have a place in the universe. This amazing web-resource put it in neat words that I quote below:

“Elephants form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups of related females called a herd. The herd is led by the oldest and often largest female in the herd, called a matriarch. Herds consist of 8-100 individuals depending on terrain and family size. When a calf is born, it is raised and protected by the whole matriarchal herd.”
“Elephants are extremely intelligent animals and have memories that span many years. It is this memory that serves matriarchs well during dry seasons when they need to guide their herds, sometimes for tens of miles, to watering holes that they remember from the past. They also display signs of grief, joy, anger and play.”

Unwittingly, I’d named my initiative after a symbol of matriarchy – a symbol of a world quite the opposite of ours, where the females are given the respect they deserve.

So there you go. That’s why it is the Red Elephant.

Over the next 16 Days, we have a couple of things happening at the Red Elephant Foundation. Our most valuable one is the Real Men Campaign, which is our mission to aim for equality by including men and male perspectives in the rhetoric of gender equality. Join us for a fortnight of thought-provoking pieces, insightful poetry and prose, and touching verbosity through these posts. Next up, we have a series of screenings at Chennai, a couple of films devoted to the cause of this year’s theme for the 16 Days of Activism. Do hop on board, watch them and stick around for the discussions we’d like you to be a part of, after each screening. Keep an eye out for our twitter stream and a bout of live tweeting that we will be engaging all through the sixteen days! Finally, we’re launching a series of Activism tools through the sixteen days, in the hope that you will be inspired to take informed action for women and girls across the world.

Last but not the least – and on a personal note at that - I lost my grandmother on Wednesday last week. I’d like to dedicate this whole campaign to her.

Let the Activism begin!