It takes a great deal of dedication and will power to bring about change in a society that feeds on patriarchy. Here’s the inspiring story of Srishti Bakshi, who quit her job in Hong Kong to come to India and walk all the way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Her aim was to spread the message of women’s safety and sensitize citizens to the gender divide in the country. But she doesn’t say that it was easy and without fears.

Srishti Bakshi Walks Around India to put spotlight on women's issues and inspire them
Srishti Bakshi Walks Around India to put spotlight on women’s issues and inspire them

Growing up in an army family with her father in the service, Bakshi moved across India and eventually settled in Hong Kong with her husband five years ago. While in Hong Kong, she was working in the marketing sector and dreamt of becoming a company CEO until she read about the Bulandshahr rape case in 2016 that left her aghast.

THE IDEA

“Every time that I would sit in a group of international guests, I would get compliments for India like yoga, Taj Mahal, etc. and then there would be a long pause and then they would say why is there so much violence and rape in my country. Every time such comments would come, it used to anger me so much but I would answer with facts about how the country is great. The fact is that the violations that happen against women here are a world phenomena. However, I used to lose this debate the very next morning when I would pick up the newspaper and read about molestation and gang rapes,” Bakshi told SheThePeople.TV in an exclusive conversation.

“Somewhere I was preparing myself to do this but one evening I was coming back home from work and I read about the Bulandshahr case. I don’t know what state of mind I was in that I felt that this is it and that I am going to do something about it.”

Srishti Bakshi Walks Around India to put spotlight on women's issues and inspire them
Srishti Bakshi Walks Around India to put spotlight on women’s issues and inspire them

When she spoke to her friends and family about it, they were clueless as to what they could do about it. This is when she realized that there has to be a new energy, new way of communication and new conversation. Her husband and her father supported her idea. Her father actually etched out the whole plan of her walking journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

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THE WALK-Crossbow Miles

Bakshi is walking 3,800 km on-foot to mobilize communities to make the country a safer place for girls and women by empowering them with digital and financial literacy. Between Kanyakumari and Kashmir, Bakshi walked through 11 states, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, J&K, etc.

Bakshi is currently in Jalandhar. From there, she will go to Srinagar, the last stop in the Crossbow Miles walk.

“I had met 25,000 people by the time I reached Delhi. It was simply word of mouth that people got to know about our initiative and joined in. And this why the walk. A walk has its own journey of an individual learning and understanding and imbibing the environment to really live somebody else’s life. I have heard stories of horror and then I have heard stories of hope. And when we understand that the hope that these people need are very simple things like looking at a video of a girl who has made it from the same village than showing a Bollywood movie.”

She walks 25-30 km a day meeting people on the ground, about 150 to 200 every day. However, during her walk in Delhi, she had a huge crowd attention of around 5,000 people. After the walk, she carries out workshops in the town and villages that she is walking through.

“I decided that I am going to assimilate the data, produce difficulty-specific results which will have policy decision-making impact and which will have its own journey to tell people around the world that India is not only about violation but it is also about power and courage,” – Srishti Bakshi

CHALLENGES

However the walk has its own challenges as Bakshi is a woman walking through the country on her own with a bunch of people to help her out.

“Logistically this whole walk is a nightmare. It is not a country where you just pick up a backpack and go. It is not a country where you can walk the night without support. I am not here to say that India is a safe country and I have walked the whole country and nothing happened. We had to take precautionary measures to keep me and my team safe.”

THE OUTCOME

Through her walk, Bakshi planned to get first-hand data of the challenges that concern the people of India. “I decided that I am going to assimilate the data, produce difficulty-specific results which will have policy decision-making impact and which will have its own journey to tell people around the world that India is not only about violation but it is also about power and courage,” she claimed.

The whole walk is a great idea for a person to connect with communities and see first-hand the experiences women go through across the board. It is hard to establish how this is going to turn out at the policy-making level. There are various international and national organisations who carry out studies various parts of the country and focus on each and every aspect of it. It is difficult to believe how an individual person’s walk can bring out the kind of effect that focused researches do.

By her own admission, Bakshi is not a social development researcher, and yet she undertook the task. The mere thought that she could bring about a change in society against crimes and injustice is what is praise-worthy.

More Stories by Poorvi Gupta

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