Educating men is also important: Priya Kulkarni

ASHA for Women president says need to empower women to curb domestic violence.

By Deepak Chitnis

Priya Kulkarni during her opening address at the event.
Priya Kulkarni during her opening address at the event.

WASHINGTON, DC: ASHA for Women held a gala event to celebrate the 24th anniversary of its inception, at the George Mason University’s Johnson Center, in northern Virginia, on Saturday.

ASHA for Women president Priya Kulkarni spoke to The American Bazaar after the event, giving her thoughts on ASHA’s past, present, and future:

What is about ASHA for Women that has caused it to last this long and be an impact on society?

I think the most important thing that comes to mind is the fact that we have so many dedicated volunteers. I think when you have volunteers that want to do something because they believe in it, it makes all the difference in the sustainability of an organization, and that is what has carried us forward.

Do you have sister organizations in other major metropolitan areas in the country? Do you reach out to women who aren’t necessarily in the Washington, DC area?

There are somewhere between 35 and 45 South Asian domestic violence organizations all across the US; they are sister organizations in the sense that we all do mostly the same work and have the same mandate, but we’re not officially linked in any way. We do, however, collaborate on ideas, and we do get together for conferences and share intelligence, plans, and so on.

Next year is a big year for ASHA for Women, as it will be 25 years old. Where do you see ASHA for Women in the next five or ten years? How do you see the organization growing?

The next logical step for ASHA would be to start expanding into areas [of assistance] that we haven’t explored before, and that would only come once we have strengthened our core curriculum. Once we have done that, which we are in the process of doing over the next two or three years, we probably will be expanding in ways to help different groups of people who are also in domestic violence situations, such as senior citizens for example.

Women in India are making strides in modern society as India continues to rise as a major global player in various sectors, but still many women are tied down by the archaic notions of a patriarchal society — how do people put an end to this? How do we nip this problem in the bud so that the problem of women facing abuse is altogether eliminated and organizations like ASHA for Women are no longer even needed?

Educating and empowering women is where we’re going to stop seeing an explosion of problems like [domestic violence]. Education is at the core of everything. If you educate families, educate women and empower them, strengthen them and instill a sense of self-confidence in them, every wife or sister or daughter will know that their gender does not tie them down in any way. Educating men is also important; by educating as many people as we can, we can solve this problem forever.

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