My extended family was like every other Indian household. I saw women in despair, most of them put up a brave face very often.
For a long time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My pea-sized brain (I was 7!) would ask, “Why are they not leaving their marriages if they’re unhappy? They have another home after all.”
And so, I concluded that they lacked confidence. That they were not taught to think, “I can take care of myself. I am capable.”
As I grew up, I realised how unaware I was. Or how narrow my lens was. Women’s issues in India are multifaceted, layered, and complex. To not make the mistake again, I spent time trying to understand how the upbringing of young girls impacted independence, their chance at good marriages (for instance), and the overall agency of their lives.
I was an armchair activist. And I had settled for that. The reasons were many, but I didn’t think I could create ANY impact till I turned 40 and had some influence.
In 2021, that changed.
I joined C4E (DD’s current incubator) as a content intern. In just a few months, I had taken up more work. It turned into a Founder’s Office / Chief of Staff role. I spent all my time with SG and P – writing content, shadowing them while they managed projects, and executing new ideas.
Thanks to the fact that I NEVER shut up, I’d often talk about the women around me. Most of these were rants. And some unanswered questions.
Simultaneously, I was chatting with SG about C4E and building the org; I knew that we seeded businesses but I didn’t connect the dots.
In the first 6 months, I was exposed to an unreal amount of information, people, and ideas. I was thrown into deep waters, and I had to learn to find my way out. I was shown that I could do a lot more if I intended to. And that the possibilities were way beyond what I had fathomed. In short – I was taught to dream big.
C4E nudged me. It made me think about solving for the professional independence of women TODAY instead of in 2074. And when I did that, I realised that it was a gigantic goal. That it needed the world to come together.
And so, that became my starting point. To tell the world what we have set out to do with the intention of searching through the crowd for supporters, believers, missionaries, and lurkers.
And thus, Decoding Draupadi.
As of Oct 24, 2023, DD is not just my mission. It is for every woman in India to find her voice, her place in the world, and contribute to the community at large.
This note is thus an attempt to find more people who resonate with this mission. Because if it is merely mine, then DD’s far from solving its purpose.
WHO are we looking for?
1/ Young, ambitious students/graduates looking to work with mission-driven organisations – we are hiring! And, you can write to me us firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
2. Women who resonate with what we’re doing and would like to be involved in the capacity of a board member or supporter. Or, even feature as a guest in our podcast.
Anshika Kushwaha (co-parent) and I are always looking to step outside our urban bubbles and expand our horizons 🙂
Until Next Time,
Chandni Menda <3