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Empowering Women Leaders for Violence Prevention: Parity Lab’s partnership with Leadership That Works - India



1 in 3 women worldwide face violence in their lifetimes

Communities across nations tackle the harsh reality of this appalling statistic, with the help of bold, entrepreneurial leaders working to prevent and address gender-based violence. However, their ability to sustain and scale up their innovations is limited by a lack of financial, cultural, and social capital. In the face of these obstacles, leadership becomes a tight-rope walk. Making balanced decisions that consider personal values, future goals, and current circumstances seems inconceivable.

For our founder, Mathangi Swaminathan, coaching became a tool to become a better leader, capable of facing these challenges to achieve social change.

“I experienced coaching for the first time in 2017. For the first time ever, I had a safe space to talk, a professional who listened to me with no judgment and with compassion and curiosity. That led to a powerful journey of discovering my own voice, and to a life of listening to my soul. Being authentic and integrated with your mind, body and soul, is a sign of resistance in an oppressive world.”
With this in mind, we have now partnered with Leadership That Works-India (LTW-India) to launch Project Inner Voice - an innovative and transformational coaching program for core team members of our partner grassroots organizations. All our partner organizations are Dalit or Adivasi (Indigenous) women-led organizations based in rural India. A team of three coaches, Jagruti Gala, Shipra Gupta and Sanjyot Pethe will be working with our partner organizations over the next six months.

Jagruti Gala, Coach and Lead-Mentoring|Faculty at LTW-India, finds coaching to be a key methodology to support our changemakers in their quest for communities free from violence against women and girls.
"Due to its start and widespread use in the corporate sector, coaching has, in the past, been viewed as an instrument solely for the elite, but this view is changing. Every human being can benefit from coaching."
According to Jagruti, a coach helps a leader become more aware of themselves and their visions for the future, and if their actions are in alignment with these elements.
"Do we have a thread that ties our life’s moments together?"

While our women leaders are already immersed in their values through their work, by cultivating this self-awareness and curiosity, coaching helps them foster deeper connections between themselves, their communities, and their campaigns for change. This enables compassion, not only for others but also for themselves, along with more creativity, which is necessary to make value-aligned decisions in resource-constrained settings.

Unique to LTW-India’s approach to coaching is their use of an equity lens, which helps dissect how several intersections of oppression, such as the ones faced by our women leaders, can impact a human being and the choices they make. Through this lens, a coach helps us become more aware of our patterns of thought, biases, and prejudices, shaped by these structural forces, granting access to more agency in a world that can be cruelly restrictive, particularly to women from oppressed classes and castes.

As Mathangi affirms, 

“When I started Parity Lab, there was no doubt in my mind that we needed healing and trauma-centered coaching to be an integral part of our work with grassroots leaders. So excited about Parity Lab's partnership with Leadership That Works to support our incredibly courageous women fighting against gender-based and caste-based violence on-ground everyday."
We hope this partnership will help our women leaders gain access to tools that are often only available to certain sectors and sections of society. As the coaching progresses, we will check in with them to understand their views and experiences with the program. Best of luck to all!

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