At the young age of 25, Aditya Gupta has experienced a great spectrum of opportunity. After graduating from IIT Delhi with a degree in computer science and engineering, he worked as a senior associate with a private firm. Looking for something more satisfying, he handed in his resignation and backpacked around Europe, landing up finally as a volunteer with an NGO called Technoserve in East Africa. The Nirbhaya gang rape in December 2012 pushed him to come back to Delhi and start People for Parity Foundation (PfP). PfP works with young people to empower them to curb violence against women in public and non-public spaces, and to create technology that can be used for women’s safety.
In June 2013, Aditya met and heard the experiences of the last batch of fellows at the Changelooms public recognition event. He noticed that the fellows had managed to increase their impact in the target communities. He also saw that Change Looms was a great way to “connect with everyone who works in the sector, and is doing interesting and inspiring work in youth development and empowerment.” Before he knew it, he had applied.
The Change Looms journey has helped Aditya to form a broader perspective of gender-based violence than his initial understanding that had triggered PfP. He is also much more aware of his areas for improvement as a leader and facilitator enabling him to consciously work on these areas.
People for Parity has been successful in implementing several gender sensitization workshops in the past six months. It has reached out to approximately 600 young people in schools and colleges. One of the colleges – IIT Roorkee – is setting up a women’s cell with a PfP member as its head and has also invited PfP for a second round of workshops. In addition PfP has also conducted workshops with volunteers on identity, masculinity, self, gender and power. With his technical background, Aditya has developed the Pukar smartphone app with which women in distress can contact the police and friends / family. It is being piloted in partnership with the Alwar police station. The Pukar SMS service gives users immediate access to local hotlines.
In the last six months, Aditya has had a clear focus on building his team. He has co-created a feedback process and developed greater ownership in his team. He has learned to share his responsibilities and delegate roles to team members. There is a leader for each of the key functions, such as the website, partnership development, outreach, feedback and marketing. This delegation has enabled Aditya to energize his team and build organizational capacities. As a strategy, Aditya is also training facilitators at PfP who can reach out to more schools and take the work forward. He organized 2 volunteer recruitment events and mobilized 25 new volunteers. Another key celebration of Aditya’s Changelooms experience is his ability to seek inputs from his mentor, Kanika Sinha, brainstorm ideas, access resources and discuss strategy. He also co-created a blog for sharing workshop experiences and learnings. All these steps have helped in strengthening his initiative.
Leadership experiences have been a key aspect of Aditya’s Changelooms journey. As part of the core group, he was active in organizing an advocacy event called “Jamavda: A Gender Mela”. Through this he “learnt to work in a team of diverse young leaders and sharing thought and action to put together an event…. [and] built deep friendships and productive partnerships” with other Change Looms fellows. He also organized a panel discussion on the role of young men in addressing GBV issues and initiated a discussion betweent the audience and the panelists.
Aditya’s quiet focus and mature passion have enabled him to take full advantage of the Change Looms program. “The journey has helped us stabilize…. When we entered Changelooms, we had just piloted our programs, and we were convinced about what [i.e. the type of work] we were getting into but we didn’t know exactly how [i.e. the processes we would use]. The how has really improved over the last six months”.
As a young organization in its pilot phase, Aditya feels he joined Change Looms at the perfect time, as it has helped PfP to experiment, reflect and stabilize, while having the support to help it quickly pick up any thing that may have gone wrong.