I met Mayuri Misra, a CSR specialist, on a sunny winter morning. She was on her way to deliver a TEDx talk about her work in Kashmir where she had helped transform the lives of young women in Baramulla through Indian Army’s outreach programme, Operation Sadbhavna. This pretty girl packed a ton of determination and commitment in her petite frame.
When Mayuri was asked to manage the skilling initiative in Baramulla, she jumped at the chance. For her, this was an opportunity to get creative with the mandate of corporate social responsibility in one of the toughest situations in the country. Gunfire, stone pelting and curfews were not going to hold her back. Nor, were social conventions. She wanted to be there for the young women of Baramulla who had defied patriarchy and terrorism and had dared to dream of a career.
Mayuri’s passion for her work was palpable as she shared her experiences about the young women who wanted to study fashion designing at the skilling centre. It took some convincing the stakeholders to invest but with a bit of strategizing Mayuri acquired the funding, the infrastructure and the know-how for the course. For Mayuri though, the end goal of the course was employability. So, she persuaded a leading fashion designer to mentor the students and also liaised with industry to bring in business.
I asked Mayuri, what was the mantra that helped her go on in the face of all the challenges in Kashmir. Courage, Mayuri replied. Women must have the courage to face their circumstances and to take decisions. Only then can they become agents of change, she said. As a survivor of an abusive marriage, Mayuri overcame emotional trauma and financial difficulties to rebuild her life. CSR was her opportunity to be an agent of change. With a sense of pride, Mayuri mentioned Shafia Ramzan, a student of the fashion designing course. After finishing the course, Shafia opened her own boutique in Baramulla to support her family. Now, she is training other women in her neighbourhood in stitching and tailoring.
One empowered woman can empower many. Mayuri’s courage and commitment are proof that women can be change makers, they only need an opportunity.