The establishment of Mahila Dakshata Samiti in the year 1991 was the birth of a Dream, a dream I carried in my hopeful heart for several years. My motivation to start it was intense, and the support and encouragement I received from my friends and colleagues was impressive. Today, as we stand on the threshold of our 25 year of existence, I reminisce fondly our journey as a Change Enabling NGO that works towards improving the lives of women and children in distress. What started out as a small venture operating out of my residence, MDS has today grown to great heights. We have our own magnificent building in Vidyaranyapura which houses our Office, Family Counseling Center, Short Stay Home, Seminar Hall, and Training Units.

Our prime area of focus is Women Empowerment. We strongly believe that there is no tool for development that is more effective than this. Women and girls face unacceptable levels of discrimination and abuse, which is not only wrong but also prevents them from playing a full part in society and decision making. Though women are increasingly seen as active agents of social transformation from traditional to modernity in the home and work place, violence against them and discrimination at all levels is rampant in society and a deep rooted societal evil. Our endeavor is to create an environment for women which increases and improves their social, economic, political and legal rights as an individual to enable them to lead a healthy, independent and secure life.

As a crisis intervention center, we have pledged our support to provide relief to distressed victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, and other forms of abuse who deserve to come out of the trauma and lead a life clothed with dignity, self-worth and independence. We empower them in education, health care, legal awareness, women's rights, protection and safety, by holding regular awareness camps. Our Dakshata short stay home has lent its support to over 2000 women who have been victims of domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, child abuse and other forms of abuse, to enable them to overcome their problems. Extensive counseling support has brought many families together and prevented a breakup of the family unit.

Education is the golden key to empowering women. We have worked extensively in educating the Girl child by giving scholarships to nearly 75-80 children every year belonging to the marginalized sections of society, right from Primary school, high school, pre-university and Degree courses including Medicine and Engineering. We are proud to say that 30 girls have completed engineering and have been placed in good companies and many who are successful doctors today.

Our emphasis is on value based education. Minds are impressionable at this stage and imparting good social and moral values helps to build the qualities of humility, strength, responsibility, honesty and integrity in a child and contributes to the emotional, psychological, intellectual and physical growth of a child. We believe that this would help to mould their personalities and make them ideal citizens of a country as they are the future of our nation. Our Samiti regularly contributes to this change by conducting awareness programs in schools and colleges and even in slums to build awareness on child protection and safety, preparedness against sexual abuse, gender equality and respect for all.

MDS is a product of hard work, focus and dedication on the part of my entire team who also share my dream, and also our esteemed donors and patrons who have made our journey this far, very memorable. We shall continue our noble aim of serving all sections of society and thereby contribute to building a better nation.

Saranya S. Hegde


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