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A Series of Legal Rights Awareness Sessions by Reet Foundation & Suburb to Empower Women

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The culmination session of the first season of Project Shakti by Reet Foundation in association with SUBURB was a grand success like the two previous sessions organised in Gurugram.

“It has been a tremendous fulfilling journey for us since we started project Shakti to create awareness among women about their legal rights. The response in Gurugram has astounded us not just because of the large number of participants that we received in all our events but the openness of women to discuss matters which were usually brushed under the carpet,” said the duo Advocate Ritu Kapoor Sharma founder Reet Foundation and Vineeta Jerath Grover Co-founder & Editor SUBURB, Chairperson Women Empowerment (CSR) for the Federation of Indian Industry.

The third in a row, the event Shakti organised at Club Patio, Gurugram, was inaugurated by Renu Bhatia, Chairperson of State Commission for Women (HSCW), Guest of Honour was Nitesh Kumar Scientist & Jt. Director Department of Defence R&D, Ministry of Defence, Guest of Honour Surabhi Pant Joshi, Vice Principal MRIS, Charmwood Faridabad.

 Passionately talking about her project, Adv Ritu Kapoor said, “The Project Shakti aims at not just informing people about the Legal Rights of Women with a special focus on Domestic violence and divorce laws but also to ignite the feeling of community strength among women so that they feel empowered and muster the courage to voice out if they suffer any mental, emotional, physical abuse at the hands of their family, in-laws or relatives. (POSH) The prevention of sexual harassment of women in the workplace act was passed in 2013. It is yet another strong act favouring women.”

Taking the conversation further, Vineeta Jerath says, “our Indian constitution puts in the laws, but there is a gap regarding its implementation due to socio-economic reasons. The patriarchal mindset has become a part of social DNA across the globe. In India, the mind conditioning of patriarchal acceptance among women has plagued the inquiring mind. Hence she willingly keeps offering herself to compromise until there comes a stage when she cannot bear the humiliation or pain any further. Recently there seems to be a surge in divorce cases filed by women or men who have been married for over 25 years, which was not heard of in the recent past. It shows that women are rising like a phoenix reclaiming their power.”

Renu Bhatia, Chairperson of HSCW, addressing the gathering, said, “We at the commission believe in encouraging couples to come to a mediation ground to talk out their difference and then take a call. Often, a temporary separation period between the couple works in their favour, clearing differences. In the case of adult children, often the resolve comes from them, and we cannot ignore their genuine problems rising due to the marital discord of their parents.”

Surabhi Pant Joshi, Vice Principal MRIS, Faridabad, reminded women that they are Shakti themselves. “You do not have to ask for your rights or look for your inherent Shakti in others. Take a step within to experience the immense force of courage, faith and all qualities of Shakti that lay hidden. Women are by nature the strongest species.”

Nitesh Kumar Scientist & Jt. Director Department of Defence R&D, Ministry of Defence, addressing the audience, made exemplary mentions from mythology and history upholding the power of women. He said, “it is not just important to know your rights, but significant is to enforce them while leading an everyday life. To empower is greater than being powerful. So real change comes when an individual start to empower others.”  

The second Shakti session was graced by Arjun Award winner ACP (Crime Against Women) Gurugram Surinder Kaur, who represented India in women’s hockey internationally. Unassuming yet powerful police officer hails from a simple family in Haryana.

Raised in tough conditions while growing up, she carved a way out as an exemplary hockey player and then paddled her way to the Haryana Police Department. Referring to life journey, Surinder Kaur leads with an example: “If a woman once decides to achieve something, she has immense potential to fight her way out and become an achiever. Coming from a traditional household in Haryana with restrictions and minimum source of livelihood at a young age, I had decided to become a hockey player, and then there was no looking back. With the support of my family and my strong conviction and hard work despite all odds of financial and social pressure, I could manage to make my dream a reality. Women have immense power within; it is high time she recognises their strength and uses it to harness positivity in her world. Sometimes we get false cases also filed by women. I urge people to avoid filing fraud cases,” she urges.

 The grand opening of project Shakti in March 2022 was done by the dynamic police office, Dr Rajshri Singh – IGP Crime, IGP Traffic & Highways -a Haryana Police. Besides being a focussed lady cop commanding a position of responsibility and sensitivity, Dr Singh is a published writer. She has a book Adhkhili Dhoop, to her credit. She mesmerised the audience with her practical knowledge, wrapped in feminine energy of compassion, courage, wisdom, and consistent hard work. “Born as a female is a blessing. She is born empowered; it’s just that she gets conditioned in society in a way that she forgets the strength inherently present in her. She does not need others to empower her. Even nature gets addressed as a woman, feminine energy. She carries the entire life in her womb; she reminded women emphatically.

About Reet Foundation  

Ritu Kapoor, a renowned lawyer in Gurugram court, through her NGO, envisages reaching marginal segments, as well as women who are afraid to defend themselves, through a series of legal awareness sessions and free consultancy. “Over the years of my practice in Gurugram District Courts, I realised that women across social strata face discrimination and injustice. Instilling a sense of security and confidence in women’s minds is the prime objective of the Reet Foundation. Launching Project Shakti to impart knowledge on women’s legal rights is a step in that direction,” she informed.

Focussing on women keeping their stories of exploitation and injustice buried under the carpet, Vineeta Jerath Grover said, “Despite having the largest share of crimes against women, domestic violence is known to be a systematically under-reported crime. Reasons range from embarrassment, public shame, family pressure, fear of social ostracism, financial dependency on the partner, fear of losing custody of children, guilt and, very significant, the fear of long drawn legal battle in court. Unfortunately, domestic violence to quite a degree is normalised due to social fabric that promotes patriarchy mind conditioning, and women surrender to that line of thinking, considering it a normal way of life.”

The third session was the culmination of the first season of awareness drive organised by Reet Foundation and SUBURB at Club Patio, Gurugram, on July 31. Looking at the warm response of people and queries, the organisers are thinking of curating another series of workshops on the same line and setting up legal advice camps by the battery of lawyers attached to the cause.

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