Women In India Win More Campaigns: Preethi Herman Of Change.org

Preethi Herman

Women are at the forefront of bringing change, says Global Executive Director, Preethi Herman of Change.org. Recently promoted to the position after working as country lead for a few years, Herman has witnessed social change closely and the change brought by women.

Talking to SheThePeople.TV, Herman said, “Our mission is to empower people everywhere to create change they want to see and our aim is to see a world where no one is powerless. What we are doing is to go beyond the technology platform alone to understand how it can aid the community, not just individuals and focus more on marginalised communities around the world.

Closer home in India, Herman sees an increasing number of women-led campaigns. “Our research about two years ago showed that three-fourth of our users were men and less than 25% were women out of around 70 lakh campaigns. When we looked at those numbers keenly, we found that even though they were lesser in number, most of the winning campaigns were led by women. And the data showed that why women won more petitions is because of powerful story-telling and they came from personal experience. Also, women mobilized people more.”

“My analysis from this is that as a woman when you’re facing a challenge, you don’t have an option to not fight. You are at a stage where either you fight or give up like an issue doesn’t occur in your life and the petitions come from a place of injustice and marginalisation. I think that’s what keeps the fire to make it go and win. So in this kind of a phenomenon, the India theme is to build support for more women,” said Herman

Jump in women starting petitions

In the past year and a half, the organisation has moved from having 23% to about 40% women starting petitions on the platform. It has also launched an initiative to help women create more campaigns for the difficulties that they face — She Creates Change. The one-year program identifies emerging women leaders who believe in the power of community to support them through their campaign. It runs sessions where the women come together and network and interact with other changemakers, creating a community and a support system. Herman said that their research revealed that women lacked the support system and that’s why they created such a program to facilitate them.

“In many cases, we saw that these women weren’t even supported by their own families and so this effort builds a community that would feel supported by each other, run campaigns together so they don’t have to rely on external support. In the next few years, women’s community is going to become massive and run campaigns not just related to women’s issues but issues in general.”

Two-fold focus

The focus of the organisation is two-fold, Herman tells us. One is to help support campaigns that aid democracy and the second is to support women and girls’ movement.

On government intervention in non-profit organisations, Herman is of the view that there are many policy makers who are actually using the platform as decision-makers.

Change.org has worked as a company for many years. It is only last year that they changed the format to become an NPO. But Herman said that there has been an array of policies always, regardless of who is in power.

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