Girls to Watch: Bhani Rachel Bali, KrantiKali

The legendary Oprah Winfrey once said, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

It has become enormously important to deeply analyze where we are heading to, is our future secure, safe and convivial? What matters today is equality, inclusion, acceptance, are we openly embracing it? Are we answering every voice that asks, “Why can’t we?” Do we have a sincere realization of the fact that ‘women are no more ‘sorry’ for who they are or aspire to be, why are we holding them back for carrying opinions’?

The answer is ‘YES’, the time has come!

Meet the 24 year old, Bhani Rachel Bali, the founder of ‘KrantiKali’ a social start-up advocating gender equity and feminism through gender inclusive performance art, film, theatre and technnovation.

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Q1. Going back to the basics, how did you come up with the idea of ‘KrantiKali’, how did you feel we need something so strong?

I have been working with social sector for quiet sometime, I was very active during my college days as well. What pricked me was the fact that people who were not a part of gender conversations or were not activists used to equate gender with women. I felt the need to engage common people into this subject, to re-define gender for them, to bring a realization of how important is “gender” in our routine lives. It’s not just about women.

Q2. Tell us more about it?

KrantiKali is a multi-platform project which engages the youth around issues of gender and sexuality rights. We do this through a lot of technnovation, poetry, films and a lot of cultural activities. We heavily rely on social media activism. So far, we have launched 3 projects: Gender Sensitization in schools and colleges – Say No, Accept No (SNAN) Program, The Liminal lens project (documenting gender from a 360 degree perspective of a common individual who is not associated with gender studies) and FemiNazm, where ‘Nazm’ is an Urdu word for Poetry (celebrating feminist poets). We hosted our very first event earlier this year and it was a great success. KrantiKali essentially is a feminist collective at the moment, adding to the change, making a difference for women, girls and all other genders.

Q3. The participation of men is as important as women in a gender revolution, do you agree?

Absolutely, it’s very important. When you are engaging men, it’s not just ‘HeforShe’, it’s also ‘HeforHe’ that’s what the tone in India is. We are making an effort to put across the toxic effects of patriarchy on all genders and not just women.

Q4. When you go to schools or colleges for workshops and connect with people at mass level, what is their acceptance rate towards equality?

In schools and colleges, it largely depends on how we present ourselves, we go down at a very basic level of gender sensitization. We talk about gender roles, address LGBTQ rights, femininity, sexual harassment or verbal abuse. Kids mostly don’t know, so we try to target 9th graders. When you talk about patriarchy with them they don’t realize it or relate to it, so we try to keep our conversations activity based or a sort of a role-play and yes, they accept it.

Q5. Recently, a very famous director in Bollywood said, “It has been incredibly hard for me to come out openly about my sexual status and I know why”. Given that we are in 2017, is talking about your sexual orientation still a taboo?

I have worked with the LGBTQIA+ community, YES, it’s still very hard. About a year ago, I did a research study with a renowned organization in Mumbai, a lot of my respondents accepted hiding it from their parents and a lot of them were asked to leave their homes. It had a very strong psychological impact on them, you realize it only when you converse.

In fact, after completing my research, I did go back just to check, since, some of the respondents were really good friends of mine. Thankfully, circumstances improved for them and I believe that family intervention and support from LGBTQ community is much needed for this.

Q6. One last message you wish to give away to our readers.

It’s very important for all of us to remind that we as individuals, need to be more accepting and more respectful. When we fear something, we tend to go against it but that shouldn’t be the case. It’s high time we fight our fears. Patriarchy has sunk its teeth into people’s mindsets and its time we realize how toxic this is.

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Picture Courtesy of Dipnendu Choudhury

To know more about Rachel Bali and KrantiKali, please visit her links below.

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