This past week Kashay Sanders, VOICE 4 Girls Program Development Assistant, sat down with Vaishali Nitturkar, Founder and Director of The Gyan Tree/Kidology. Please join along in Part Two of their conversation.
What is your ultimate vision for Kidology? What’s the mission?
In my lifetime, I want to reach out to 1,000 families. When I say 1000 families, it’s all aspects—parenting, discipline, childhood, relationships between family members and what can they contribute to others. I don’t want it to be just me touching their lives and that’s it. I want to sensitize them so they can take forward and touch another life.
I want to talk a little about your focus on the girl child and your sensitivity to that issue. Why? How do you think you use your expertise to better the position of the girl-child? What do you think needs to be done in this area, as far as educating the girl child?
There’s a wrong notion today in our society that if we empower the girl child she’s going to be independent and her focus on her family is going to go away. That’s not right, I believe. We are empowering the girl child because it is she who is giving birth to children, who are tomorrow’s leaders and citizens. If you empower the female of the house, that energy and that power are going to get passed on to the children and the community.
As a female, she is a mother, she is a daughter, she is a friend and she is a sister, a neighbor and a listener. So we are empowering her to be able to empower others.
If we develop the five “E”s in a girl child and empower her to actually practice them, she is going to develop those five Es in others.
So I heard that you’re writing children’s books! Tell me about that process. When and Why did you start?
Last year, I realized that the ideas that I had were passed through a discussion I had with the children or through some activity. So I thought, “What happens after that?” I thought to start writing books, simple stories but with a learning component. In every book, I have a section for the parents and teachers, to use these stories so kids can apply it to something complex. I started writing four months ago, and I have written four [unpublished] books. I am on my fifth one now and they are, again, focused on the five “E”s.
One book is about developing empathy in children. And it’s a story about a little boy and a girl. The little girl is visually challenged and the boy is her friend. His challenge: how does he explain to her the world in a way she can understand? The little boy has to figure out, how do I connect with that person?”
What do you think it means to be a Woman of Action?
I think a Woman of Action is a woman who is in a position to, and is willing to, empower others.
What do you think is one of the largest roadblocks to women being able to take control over their lives? And what do you think the solution is?
The biggest roadblock is the woman herself. I have been a roadblock to myself. Through one’s life, one has to face ups and downs and one may think, “Ok, that’s it, I cannot take it anymore.” Being a woman, there is always a clash between the ‘mom’ in the woman and the want to create an identity, but she wants to have a balance too. This guilt can suppress her. No one can help her, but she has to help herself. The woman has to decide to come out of it herself. When a woman takes that first small step towards getting out of self-pity, all the community starts to support her.
Do you know any women of action? If so, how have they played a role in your life or organization?