Voices of Resilience: A Conversation with Kirthi Jayakumar
April 2020 – VVEngage and VVLead Fellow Kirthi Jayakumar is an activist, artist, entrepreneur and writer from Chennai, India. Kirthi taught herself to code in order to build the app Saahas, an app for survivors of gender-based violence that offers resources that survivors can rely on when they need and that bystanders can rely on to educate themselves. She is also the founder and CEO of the Red Elephant Foundation, a civilian peace-building initiative that works for gender equality through storytelling, advocacy and digital interventions. Kirthi chats with Vital Voices President and CEO Alyse Nelson about the levels of violence during times of crisis and how COVID-19 is impacting India.
Kirthi and Alyse start their conversation by talking about the developments in India surrounding the Coronavirus, and how India is uniquely positioned for COVID-19 given its dense and divided population. They also talk about how gender-based violence is more common during humanitarian emergencies, and the different forms of violence that people do not talk about, such as restrictions on menstrual products and online harassment. Kirthi also explains her reasoning behind creating her app, and leveraging the time on lockdown for introspection to realize the current systems are not serving us. Kirthi gives us inspiration in thinking that the post-COVID times will be an awakening, and a time to build systems that better serve more people.
Listen to Kirthi’s episode here:
If you are interested in Kirthi’s app, Saahas, and the resources it provides, you can learn more about it and download a PWA version here. Unfortunately, it is not available on the Apple App Store but it is available for download in the Google Play Store!