Op-Ed

A group of Indian women, ranging in age, are gathered wearing bright colored clothing.

I was born into a culture that embraces confusing messages about the worth and value of women. I grew up in an India where a woman such as Indira Gandhi could become a formidable leader, and yet female infants were routinely killed or starved because they were deemed less valuable than boys. This contradiction played out in my family where smart and competent women who made a difference in the world continued to live with men who abused them, or attempted suicide when their husbands left them. The female role models in my life oscillated between these radical extremes: powerful agents and value-less victims. For as much as I have resisted, this confusion has been a central struggle in my life; I have worked to believe that there is a place for me in this world, that I have a right to enjoyment and happiness, that I matter, and that I have the power to make a difference.

I began working to end violence against women nearly fifteen years ago when I realized that violence is one of the key...