Safe Women Foundation established with the mission of personal safety of urban women through organizing and conducting Self Defense Workshops for women employed in corporate sector and college and high school girls. The Foundation has been doing this community service commendably for eight years. The Foundation addresses all personal safety related threats that women face today in urban India, which as we all are aware. It undertakes such initiatives that will ensure their right knowledge and techniques of self-defense, safety tips, learning through real incident sharing and personal safety suggestions, so that they can acquire confidence to move ahead in life without any fear. It is an invaluable cause in the violence ridden society and will help women find confidence for an equal role for their own betterment and for the betterment of the society.
Safe Women Foundation had the event “We Are One” – A Collaborative Dialogue on Women’s Safety. The event was inaugurated by Ms. Maneka Gandhi, Hon’ble Minister for Women & Child Development. The key panelist was Ms. Raveena Tandon and Ms Rashmi Anand who are very passionate about Womens Safety and Security. She was a part of the panel discussion on Womens Safety outside home and at work. Woman’s Era spoke to Mr. Sunil Nihal Duggal who is the Founder and Vice – Chairperson of Safe Women Foundation on the occasion
Woman’s Era : Tell us the motivation behind SWF.
Sunil Nihal Duggal : In 2004 when I was the MD of 24 Secure, a large security organization, I saw that the demand for women security officers was starting to increase. So, we were the 1st company to launch Women Body Guards. From there we would see that women would face lots of problems coming to work, a lot of them were subject to harassment at home and this would hamper their potential to work, affect their confidence and motivation. Coupled with a few other incidents and feedbacks, I decided to write a self-help book, which women could use to teach themselves simple safety moves, techniques and measures.
After seeing the huge positive response towards the book, I decided to start the Safe Women Foundation – SWF, which would give direct training to women/ girls at various walks of their lives and help them to become more confident by knowing how to respond to different possible situations and threats.
WE : How is SWF different from the already existing initiatives for women safety?
SND : With the support of 24 Secure, a company that has been in the security field for more than 15 years, SWF has the power and knowledge to train women in practical day-to-day tips on safety and security. We not only teach the art of self-defense but also timely prevention and response, which is constantly updated on a regular basis.
WE : We see a plenty of schemes proposed by NGOs and the government to promote women safety, but women are as insecure as ever. Why do you think that is?
SND : It’s a combination of many factors. The prime need is that men and boys need to be educated on the way they should treat and respect women. This has to be taken care of at all phases of growing up, whether at school or home. From the mothers to the teachers, it is going to be our next focus to train boys together with girls. We want this to be an equal responsibility of all the citizens.
WE : What kind of help do you expect and hope for from the government?
SND:-We hope for every support possible, from financial to guidance. But we don’t expect things to happen overnight. Our endeavor remains to continue teaching and training girls/ women on safety and self-protection. I am very hopeful that we will get full support in the times to come.
WE : What kind of response do the self-defence workshops get from women?
SND : The response is overwhelming. The girls/women who undertake our workshops walk out as more being confident and stronger. We find that as our greatest reward! We get feedbacks on the way our tips and techniques helped them avoid certain situations. It’s very encouraging; when I see such positive responses, we get motivated to do more.
WE : Please tell us about your book on women safety.
SND : ‘Women 24 Secure’ is a self-help book about Safety and Do’s and Don’ts. It is a book that has been put together through years of my research and experience. The book tells you about your rights and how/what to respond to, in different day-to-day safety-threatening situations. The most important thing is prevention, prevention and prevention!
WE : Your organisation is limited to the safety and security of urban women, do you plan to expand to rural areas where women face insecurity too?
SND : This is a deeper social-economic issue. Our current focus is to make NCR safer and it’s women / girls safer and stronger, both mentally and physically about their own personal security.
WE : What kind of legal changes are your organisation hoping and fighting for which are detrimental to women and their safety?
SND : This is something that we intend to address in the near future.
WE : Could you share with us a success story where your organisation has helped achieve its goal?
SND : This is a real incident that happened with an NIIT (Noida) employee. During one of our self-defense sessions, a female employee shared that she was constantly getting life threatening calls and messages from one of her college friends who was forcing her to marry him. After the training, she showed the SWF Team his messages, clearly stating that if the girl did not marry him, he will spoil her face with acid.
Considering this a very critical situation, the SWF team motivated and guided the girl to lodge a complaint against him with the information and consent of her family. Upon lodging the complaint, the boy was called to the police station and an appropriate action was taken against him.
With the intervention of the SWF Team at the right time this incident was avoided, which could have proved to be a fatal one.