Monday, January 04 2016, 10:47:54

Komal Panwar


JWB’s Lavanya Discusses Women Empowerment At The United Nations SDG Meet

  • JWB Post
  •  December 19, 2015


Women Empowerment is a subject widely covered, but yet the progress is deliriously slow. Or that’s at least how we used to think. This year Jaipur Women Blog is a part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an initiative by the United Nations that was brought to Jaipur by NGO SIDART.

Now, what we expected to see when we were on our way to the event, was suited men and women, giving serious talks about how we’re moving towards the goal. But, I can say that I was pleasantly surprised! After the lighting of the lamp, we met Suraj Devi, who was visiting from her village Rampura Ooti in Bagru. We began our chat with her.

Suraj Devi

“I joined SIDART when I was a housewife, and I did not know how to speak even Hindi. Slowly, when I started attending the meetings, I got to know how many opportunities were laid out in front of me. I started talking more confidently.”

We could see Dr. Pramila Sanjaya, Hon’ Advisor SIDART, running around and making sure everything was in place. Now that’s women power, isn’t it? She had held the entire place together.

Dr Pramila Sanjaya

One by one, the rural women occupied the stage and gave their presentations.

Uma Devi said, “I’m 12th pass. I never used to step outside my house, today, I have learnt how to talk, write applications, and I have been associated with SIDART for two years.”

Their presentations were followed by delegates like the Diplomat, Ms. Petra Smulders from the Netherlands Embassy giving an excellent talk followed by Dr Vijay Page (Director General, University – MET Mumbai and Bhujbal Charitable Trust). He was so impressed with the conference that he offered to host it in Mumbai the next time it happened!

Ms. Petra Smulders

The best part about the conference was that those who had suffered were the ones who came out and expressed the changes in their lives, henceforth.

Day two was more special for us because our very own Lavanya was going to be a part of the panel discussion. We reached the hall, with Lavanya’s heart beating faster than ever. She was nervous, but we knew she had the perfect mindset for the topic of “WOMENPRENEUR”.


When her name was called out, she walked onto the stage, being one of the panellists. It was a “sophisticated” place, so I didn’t jump with joy, but I SO WANTED TO! With a big black bindi between her brows, her hair let open, and wearing a bubbly face, she walked up on the stage, folded her hands in Namaste in front of everyone, and settled down. The panellists were introduced, and so was our dear Lovi! “Lavanya Bahuguna is the Blogger-in-Chief for Jaipur Women Blog. The blog writes about the stories of the women of Jaipur, and they bring the emotions as it is to our computer screens!” Paresh Gupta, the country lead of Headstart Network Foundation, which by the way, is the largest network of startups in India, was moderating the panel. Interestingly, it was  Headstart Network that invited JWB to be a part of the conference. And we couldn’t be more thankful!

He charged up the room as soon as he started! He nudged awake the quiet room as we played a little “left arm up”, “right arm up” game. This session was not going to be boring! Paresh shot his first question.

How easy or difficult is it to begin a startup for a female in the current scenario? Rachna Ghiya (Founder – Start-ups can be problematic. But I don’t think it has anything to do with men and women. I am a start-up, as well. In fact, I’m working to take my start-up to the next level! Women face just as many problems as men would.

Lavanya Bahuguna – Well, people say that start-ups need investors, but to be frank, Jaipur Women Blog, initiated by Anastassiya Savchenko, did it without. JWB began with total zero readerships, and now 90,000 people read it through a month.
Richa Gadia (Founder VGrow) – When I started organic growing of vegetables, I had to find farmers myself, and as it is, they say agriculture is the field of men. But then again, talking on the grassroots level, aren’t women the ones who are doing a lot of farming work, anyway?

What common challenges are faced by a female entrepreneur in India?

Jui Gangan (Founder Cycle Chalao) – When I began with Cycle Chalao, I remember being at the Pune municipality office, where I had to get a tender made. The men out there were not clearing the tender because I was a woman, and they said, that they wouldn’t take “bribe” from me.

Lavanya Bahuguna – There was a woman who began with her lingerie shopping app, and wasn’t getting much support because, of course, people thought it was nonsensical. After much hard work, she finally decided to crowdfund her app. And believe it or not, people came forward to help her out! So trust me, sometimes all it takes is perseverance, and things pay off! Oh, how I wished for the rest of the team to be there! Afterwards, an expert panel was invited on the stage. The group included Ms Archana Surana (Director, Arch Academy of Fashion Design), Mr Deepak Sharma (Co-Founder of Neos Angels Network LLP, Ms Alka Batra (FICCI Flo Chairperson, Jaipur Chapter), Mr Chintan Bakshi (COO Startup Oasis). The topic of women empowerment continued and the panellists talked further.

Deepak Sharma – Whatever it is that you’re good at, make it a point to begin with it as soon as you can. I’m a college dropout. I was a terrible student. *Chuckles* I knew I would never make it big as a student. So I had to quit. Archana Surana – A woman’s contribution to the world is always too great to be expressed. I remember, in those times, I was the first female ever to begin a jewellery designing course in Jaipur. Being a hub of jewellery, Jaipur did need it. So, if women want to do something, they need to come out and do it! It is always our thinking that stops us, never the world.


Alka Batra – Yes! We are the first era of women entrepreneurs in Jaipur! It was a much difficult time than it is now. Things had to be worked hard for. Probably twice as much as now.

Women empowerment discussions are always interesting, especially when we know that they are leading somewhere. These two days turned out to be the most eye-opening experience for all of us. We learned that women empowerment is being taken care of at the base level, and we felt proud that our pretty pink Jaipur was a part of the discussion.

At JWB, we firmly believe that the way to women empowerment is from inward to outward. Do you agree?

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