Mathangi Swaminathan, founder of Parity Lab, has been chosen as a 2023 Echoing Green Fellow. Since 1987, Echoing Green has been investing in transformational leaders from diverse backgrounds with a vision to solve the world’s biggest problems and challenge the status quo.
Chosen as one of 20 fellows in this year’s cohort from among nearly 2,000 applicants, Mathangi is the brain and heart behind Parity Lab, a first-of-its-kind accelerator for rural survivor-led organizations addressing violence against women and girls.
She will receive an $80,000 stipend, as well as leadership development to support Parity Lab’s growth to address gender-based violence from the ground up.
One in three women experience violence at least once in their lifetimes. Women and girls, especially in the Global South, face barriers to accessing safety and justice, due to language, caste, race, class, geography, religion, and literacy.
These systemic inequities keep powerful women leaders from accessing resources to heal and end violence in their own communities.
Mathangi, a survivor of gender-based violence herself, is determined to create a world that is safe for women and girls by breaking cycles of inequity.
Enter Parity Lab. The non-profit accelerator identifies women leaders from marginalized rural communities with a vision and an extensive track record in gender-based violence prevention and response.
For 12 months, the leaders with an embedded support system that builds their organization’s capacity, and provides trauma-informed coaching and thought partnership.
One of these leaders is Ranjita, founder of Samarthya, a rural organization based in Maharashtra, India. She is from the denotified nomadic tribal community which has been criminalized since colonial times, facing high levels of poverty, and caste and gender-based violence.
For years Ranjita has been tackling violence in the community through multiple initiatives, from setting up the first-ever nomadic-tribe and women-led financial institution to educational programs engaging boys and men.
However, Ranjita lives in a small town and does not speak English. Complex legal regulations and norms in the international funding ecosystem prevent her from accessing funds.
Through Parity Lab, Ranjita and others like her now have access to personal coaching, English-speaking classes, local funding circles, networking and international fundraising opportunities.
An alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School and a World Economic Global Shaper, Mathangi devised this unique and innovative model after a decade of working across the technology and social sectors.
While many in the social impact sector are recognizing the need for intersectional, local and decolonial approaches, Parity Lab springs to action to fill this gap by building a network of community-rooted, survivor-led initiatives to develop a holistic ecosystem to address violence.
“I feel honored to be chosen as an Echoing Green Fellow. It recognizes the massive issue that gender-based violence is, affecting more than a billion people around the world,” says Mathangi.
“This recognition will help us further build out our movement of survivor-turned-entrepreneurs fighting against gender-based violence and create a holistic ecosystem focused on mental health, legal counseling and organizational capacity development,” she says.
The Echoing Green Fellowship is one of the most prestigious fellowships awarded to 20 impact leaders from around the world every year solving the world’s toughest challenges.
The 2023 Fellows were selected through their open-call application and participatory grantmaking process. Echoing Green’s support will help ignite the spark of change that will ultimately help Parity Lab reduce violence significantly by 2035, reaching over 100 organizations and more than one million families.
Through innovative partnerships, that recognize change as a collective endeavor, we can get closer to building a safe world, where women and girls can live with dignity.