8 years ago, my best friend Dipali died at childbirth. Dipali was malnourished as she always ate late (and often less than required), after the men of the house finished eating.

My vision of the future begins with a world where nobody has to remember her best friend in this manner. In that world, no woman will get lesser share of food than a man gets, or, die of malnourishment,.

My friend Jassiben, a Dalit, cannot enter her village temple because she is an “untouchable.” I envisage a world where every woman has a life of respect and dignity.

My colleague Varsha was beaten unconscious by her husband on their wedding night. I envisage a world here women are never beaten, molested or raped.

My neighbor’s daughter misses her school 5 days every month to cook lunch, because, her mother, who has her period, is too ‘unclean’ to enter kitchen. I foresee a world where no woman is considered impure and where all girls get good education.

My cousin Sandhya wants to be a reporter. But she isn’t permitted to move out of her home alone, and, forbidden to open her mouth in public. I see a world where every woman has a voice and tells her own story.

Yes, my vision is a world where women, especially those of marginalized communities, are neither treated as lesser human beings, nor second class citizens.

The constitution has given women in my community equal rights. Now, I envisage a future where they have the right to exercise those rights: have equal share of food, get quality education and jobs; choose any profession, play any sport, wear any attire; vote, contest polls and lead the nation.

But it’s a world that needs to be created. Bit by bit, step by step. The world is like a honeycomb that needs contribution of millions. A sworn honeybee, I have decided my own 3 ways to contribute:

  1. Telling the story of the voiceless, thus connecting them with the world outside my community
  2. Share my skills and and knowledge and empower a woman to tell her story directly.
  3. Encourage my community to right the wrong they witness

So, how does VOF fit in this? First, I view World Pulse as the sharer of my vision of a just and equal world. And so, being a VOF will mean having World Pulse as my confidante; to whom I tell all my stories and renew my emotions.

But, World Pulse is also like the branch of a tree, on which we can build the honeycomb. The branch is evergreen with determination and abuzz with ideas of other honeybees like me at work.

My month-long interaction with my fellow honeybees has shown me that my stories are local only by geographic location, not by nature. I have come to realize that 95% of the stories are relevant elsewhere, experienced by women in other communities..

So, as a VOF, I can initiate discussions on issues that are burning, and have that discussion lead to collective search for solutions. Similarly, shared stories will lead to increased awareness, networking will lead to building relations and connecting of communities across the globe. And, if the going gets tough, collectively we can sting and get the tough in us going!

That’s my vision. One that I am already pursuing.

Take action! This post was submitted in response to Voices of Our Future Application: Your Vision.

Comment on this Post

Comments

Dear Stella

I am learning so much from every post you make. Though my knowledge of English is limited, I can understand everything because you present it like a photo-slide. I read this post and I feel I am seeing one after another photo and I find this so wonderful! I am sure your vision will come true one day. I send you many many good wishes dear Stella

I always lived and worked among people, mainly women who are little educated. If I have to speak to or for them, I have to speak in a manner that is easy to understand. I think its this that has influenced my writing style. I am very proud if it helps you personally. Since you are a Bengali, you must have read this line by Tagore: Shahaj kotha jay na bola shohoje/ Its not easy to say the simple things. So, I work hard to learn the art of simple talking :) Hope I can excel more.

Love and thanks for reading dear

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Hi Stella, You are ao right on so many levels. It's time for women. They are the center of everything and yet are given very little in return. Empower a woman and you can change the face of a nation. I hope you like me realize this empowerment. I already hear a powerful voice speaking against injustice, yours! I do hope we can help each other because like you say '95% of stories are relevant elsewhere' . Best of luck! Irum

Dear Irum

I really think this is the most powerful fact about VOF or World Pulse that here we can interact as openly as possible. And I really believe that we can all build a lot of opportunities here to get through many problems. Whether I get selected or not, I will continue to interact you friends like you (who are women with ideas and power to make them real) and work towards my vision.

Thank you lots and lots for reading and commenting.

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Usha

I think we feel like sisters because our problems are same. And yes, we will surely work together, whether we get selected in the 30 women's group or not. Many thanks and lot of love

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

I join my voice with yours... Stella, you are a beautiful lady and am glad to have read your articles and feel your voice through this VOF journey.. Thumbs up!

I do not aim for Perfection; Just excellence!

Dear Nezed

The partnership works when there is equal participation. Please understand that my pleasure matches yours and I am just as lucky to meet you and read your ideas. I will continue to read and join voices with you and others,so our partnership will grow stronger and stronger. Love

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wow, Stella, your vision is powerful! And you know what? When we bees have done our communal buzzing and have left for other pastures where we need to find pollen, carry sustenance and make noise, then the honeycomb we have left behind will continue to sustain and support...Can I be a queen bee please?

With so much respect for you and your work, with love from Monica in France

Monica Clarke, Writer & Storyteller, bringing human rights alive. I wish you 'Nangamso', that is: May you continue to do the good work which you do so well. (A blessing from my ancestors, the Khoikhoi, the first people of South Africa).

As always, I enjoy reading your pieces- they are all simple and clear...Keep it up Stella.

I see your vision coming to pass,

Cheers,

Y

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

I love your signature. You truly can light a candle and thats what is adding to your own brightness. I thank you for this comment and most important of all, for being my friend, so I will always stay inspired.

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Noeline

Of all the stories we shared, its important that we understand and like each other's vision. Because, its the vision we are going to work for, and we will do that together! Thanks for reading and commenting my friend. Whether we win or not, lets keep pursuing the vision together.

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Stella, I'm amazed at how you tell your stories and how you are able to transmit such feeling and passion with each of your words. I'll say it loud and clear, I hope you are one of the 30 chosen, because you are a natural and your gift must be seized. Thank you for being such an inspiring woman, and I'm sure you are already making so many changes and impacting so many people in your community that you already are a voice for the future of your country.

With love,

Natalie

Dear Natalie

You have an amazing gift of appreciating others. May you always stay blessed!!! On the subject of being chosen in 30, you know dear, I have hardly ever won any contest in my whole life. In fact, I didnt even dare contesting because I used to think, I wasn't good enough. So, if I get chosen, it will be good. But I already feel like a winner after meeting you all, and getting to know everyone. So whether I get chosen or not, I will continue to write and build the world that we all visualize,.alongside you. Love!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Yes my dear friend

We will all work together. I am very happy to meet you and Ni Ni Aye because we have many things in common.

Best wishes for your post also!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Nusrat

You are always so prompt in telling me that! You know how to keep one motivated! That's a great quality and I salute that!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wonderful. Magnificent. This is a beautiful piece. I love it. Now dear sister, in situation where both the mother and daughter are unclean, who cooks? I feel terribly sorry for Dipali, it immediately reminds me of my undergrad class mate who died last week during birth. she passed away and the baby is alive. It is so painful. I can cease stopping to think of her, she was a very intelligent and ambitious woman. And now--her story will just fade like nothing ever happen--no way! just like you said "Telling the story of the voiceless, thus connecting them with the world outside my community". Thank you so much for recounting such a brilliant experience and sharing it with your sisters.

Stay Blessed

Zoneziwoh

Blog: http://zofem.blogspot.com/

Facebook:Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo Wondieh

Twitter | Instagram: @ZoFem

Every time I hear of a woman dying like that, it makes me sick in my tummy. It breaks my heart to see women - visibly anemic, walking around painfully with the swollen belly. You can tell it right then that the delivery will be a fatal one...I am trying to imagine that baby of your friend, growing up without a mom. Nothing in this world can compensate this loss.

All of us who have seen this things, ought to work to make it stop! So happy to know you are there, doing that already.

Love!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

As always your posts are just too good and wonderfully inspiring. A joy to read every single time. I do hope for your continued success in every endeavour you choose to pursue, especially focused on women's movement and equality. It woukd be a Godsent to havr you fighting the fight

Always to prompt in reading and saying the lovely words, and you still call yourself a procrastinator? don't believe it!!!

But thank you so much dear! I think all of us..every single applicant in this VOF is a godsent, to make the world a better, safer place. And I am just too lucky to be in such company. Love!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Stella,

"Only local by geographic location, not by nature..." - wow!

This is so beautiful - you clearly voice what so many are desperate to say but cannot... you are making such amazing contributions to those women and the global community with your words!

Are you involved in any activist groups in your community?

In solidarity,

Theresa

Dear Theresa

Thanks so much, both for being my friend and for reading through the post! I, you can say, is one who is sailing two boats: media and activism. I had been a part (by which I mean a direct employee) of the environmental activists group Greenpeace and then with a media activism group called Video Volunteers until this summer. But now I am balancing it out by working in the mainstream media and by lending support to the activists group. In my friends list are over a hundred NGOs of India and the continent.

The key to building relationships is to be able to respect all and always be ready to be humbled. I allow my experiences to keep me that way.

Thanks again, for caring to comment!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Wow, what an article! I always look forward to reading your articles because they are so very engaging and well-written. i used to tout myself as a good writer before joining WorldPulse but the talent that I've found here has forced me to eat humble pie. What is a Dalit? I wish you all the best because we would like to continue to hear what happens in your corner of the world.

Dear Carlotta

There is a saying in India that says 'Vinay' (humility)is the indicator of Vidya(knowledge). You are a proof of that!!!Stay that way and it will help you win millions of heart my friend. Dalit - it literally means the 'downtrodden'. In India, majority of the population follows a system called caste. Every family name (usually in the Hindu people, though a small section of Christians and Muslims also follow this) belongs to a certain caste. There are 4 castes and the Dalit is at the bottom - that is, according to the creators and the followers of the system. Since they are at the bottom of the social category, people of other 3 castes consider Dalits as impure. A Dalit lives all his/her life with this impure tag and is often treated in the worst possible manner: worst jobs, low education, violationof all rights, atrocities etc. The women's condition is, as expected, worse than that of men. Of course now many NGOs and institutions are working to abolish this horrible and inhuman practice. But its not easy to do so as the non Dalits hold all the social and economic power. I have decided to support them in whatever way I can. Because any inhuman practice is a shame for any society.

Thanks so much for raising the question!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

.... What an inspiring post!

Stella you really put it in away that everyone can understand, and as you said 95% of the stories are relevant elsewhere, experienced by women in other communities... I salute you my sister.

Keep up the good work.

In solidarity, RA.

Dear Runn You and I, and all of us really have many evils in common. But we may not be aware of that. You are fighting my sister to resolve conflicts and right here in my country we are reeling under political and religious conflicts, We too have cases of children being abducted to train as guerrilla fighters. Such news don't get written about. But now we can talk about them and work in our own small way to create a better society. Thanks for reading sister!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Stella dear,

Treating women like lesser being is why their issues are not take with seriousness but the discriminatory practices in our cultures should also not be condoned. We people like you, there is hope for change.

Amie

Stella dear,

Treating women like lesser being is why their issues are not take with seriousness but the discriminatory practices in our cultures should also not be condoned. We people like you, there is hope for change.

Amie

Stella dear,

Treating women like lesser being is why their issues are not take with seriousness but the discriminatory practices in our cultures should also not be condoned. We people like you, there is hope for change.

Amie

Hello Stella,

I said it before, and i am saying it again! Your command of the English language is wonderful! Your vision? I can relate to it.

Good luck friend!

Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.

When two women can understand and relate to each others vision, the world tends to gain a lot. Lets stick our heads together and give the world some good! Love

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Impeccably presented as always. Stella, I have no doubt in my mind that you deserve the chance to be the voice for these women because you are a good ambassador for them. Except for themselves, no one could have told their stories better than you just did and will continue to do. You inspire me in so many ways but the best thing about you is the way your writing just reaches to the soul. It just inspires one to take action. It allows one to feel for the people you talk about. That is being a voice for the people. My dear, you are a talented writer and you deserve to be a future correspondent on behalf of the womenfolk world over.

Stella,

im still wondering how a woman can be called unclean and can cook for the family because she is on her monthly period, women are really facing a lot around the world. I am hoping we use PW to put our voices out on the world scene!

Dear Ify

I have tried digging this issue as much as I can. What strikes me that in most cases women (educated, well off) accept it without a question. With time, many women now do cook, but they still don't enter a temple or pray at home as they too believe they are unclean. Unfortunately, few of them can throw light on what makes them unclean. All you hear is 'its a tradition'.

After much studying, this is one theory that I found and personally I find it easy to accept: Once upon a time menstruating women were asked to stay away from the kitchen because those days families lived together, there were many mouths to feed and if the the women stayed off the kitchen or other work, it would give them some much needed rest. But with time, it became a distorted thought and what was supposed to be 'leave of work' ended as a taboo because of being unclean. Another way to discriminate a woman!

Thanks for reading! I do intend to talk about this, bring forth more facts and stories because the issues continues to be a taboo and so it has to be talked about!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

What is a writer without a reader who has time to read, a heart to understand and feel it and a strong mind to think about action? Nothing I would say! So, the credit is as much yours as it is mine. You have no idea how much I look forward to interact with you and thats the real gain - one that will stay whether we become VOF or not. We are and we will remain the voices of a world that is still little known and heard.

Love!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

What is a writer without a reader who has time to read, a heart to understand and feel it and a strong mind to think about action? Nothing I would say! So, the credit is as much yours as it is mine. You have no idea how much I look forward to interact with you and thats the real gain - one that will stay whether we become VOF or not. We are and we will remain the voices of a world that is still little known and heard.

Love!

Stella Paul

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

There is always so much energy in what you share. I was already feeling very sleepy before I got to your blog, I was actually very tired from the stress of a long trip and then staying up into the wee hours of night to write. By the time I started reading your story, I awoke! Really! I can already visualize the unique capabilities that you would bring as a VOF Correspondent. You are truly a leader! "The branch is evergreen with determination and abuzz with ideas of other honeybees like me at work" resonates.

With all interest,

Olanike

My dear Olanike

I have been down with viral fever for over a week now. I'm almost bed ridden you can say. And yet, I am always online, especially on Pulsewire and thats because of wonderful women like you. So, in between feeling giddy and wiping my nose, I am reading posts and commenting. I think that's inspiration.

Thanks for inspiring me and I wish you all the success my dear!l Good luck!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

So sorry Stella about your health. I hope you get well pretty soon. It's amazing that in spite of the fever, you are still reaching out in a powerful way. Please keep being strong!

Olanike.

The discussion of women having their periods being "unclean" brought to mind a book I have been reading called Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life,by Claudia Welch, a doctor of Oriental Medicine who writes:

"Menstrual blood is rich in immune cells and is the only blood in the body that doesn't clot. This means that when menstrual blood flows, it freely bathes and cleanses the uterus, cervix, and vagina with its antibacterial, antiviral properties....the evolutionary purpose of our monthly discharge of menstrual blood is to protect a woman's reproductive organs from invasive disease. This is especially important when a woman is sexually active, as sperm cells invariably have bacteria that hitch rides with them."

We all need to be the little honeybees that Stella so beautifully described and get to work setting the record straight with those who hold on to such misguided ideas about a woman being "unclean."

Stella, your words moved me greatly, and I can't help but feel angry about the injustices perpetrated against you and your loved ones out of sheer ignorance.I hope and pray that you will be chosen as a VOF correspondent, and that you continue to make progress in achieving your vision. Yours sincerely, Wendy

Thanks Wendy For putting in this insight! Its the kind of comment that multiplies one's hope and strength.

I don't know if I will become the VOF or not. But what I know is that if I don't I will not be disappointed. I have got more than what I expected - an army of women with whom I can interact and who I can have as my listeners and my supporters for years to come. And that includes you too - a fact I am happy and proud about!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Hi Stella,

This is so beautiful. I pray that your vision becomes reality and that we can be partners in making this happen.

Well done sister!

Cheers, Osai

Twitter: @livingtruely

Thanks my dear! I like your name 'Astha' - everyone of us should have astha in ourselves, astha in each other and astha in the fact that we change the world for better.

I wish you a lot of luck for becoming a VOF!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

You highlight so many important issues that affect women the world over. I am sorrry about your friend's death in childbirth and all I can say please continue to write these stories. I alos want to commend you for reading so many posts by different people and encouraging us. I think you, Usha, Madube and Monica have probably read the most posts. I've enjoyed reading your posts. Keep up the good work.

Dear Farida

Yeah, reading posts by other members is a great source of joy and insight because they are from different countries and therefore, enrich me with knowledge of global scenario of women's issues and movements. I thank you too, for reading my post and whether or not we become VOF, lets continue to write and share our stories and our views. Love

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Your passion for change resonates through the article. Such conviction! It's sad that there's so much unfairness in the world and even sadder that it has been allowed to go on so long.

BUT...it will only continue if we allow it. What's that old Shakespeare line...evil triumphs when good people do nothing. Well we won't do nothing and history will find us not wanting I tell you. I am so energised right now its not even funny!

maggs

I can see why you are getting so many responses to your postings! Thank you for your vision of a just and equal world. Let's all work to make it become a reality.

Amy @amyinstl

Dear Amy

Thanks! You are as warm and friendly as all these women here who have taken out their time to read through and comment. A contest comes and goes, but the connections that we are creating here are going to stay, providing a lot of mutual support. I definitely am striving to make my vision a reality and will be there to give a loud shout to you too, whenever you need.

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Stella Paul,

I join in with the others that congratulate your well-written piece! As always, wonderfully written. You have an amazing Voice and I am excited for your future!

Take good care,

Jess

Dear Jess You know its the readers who inspire one to excel. Amazing readers like you are a constant source of inspiration for me and, I am guessing, for everyone else here. So all thanks to you for being there!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

I really liked your usage of honeycomb/honeybees and your list of ways to contribute. A very memorable essay that shows that you have given this some serious thought. I'll look for your on Twitter! -Amy

Amy @amyinstl

Stella,

Your writing never fails to bring tears to my eyes! Your vision is beautiful, and yes definitely shared by World Pulse and so many of the buzzing honey bees who find their way here! I appreciate this heartfelt and vivid image for the future.

Warmly, Kim Crane Assistant editor at World Pulse

Dear Kim

The joy is entirely mine, I should say! These few weeks with WP has helped me in so many ways! This is a connection that happened at time when I am at a transition (and obviously scary) phase, trying to stand on my own feet and make a living by following my heart. Getting to know you has been like finding my compass which indicates I am going the right way.

So tons of thanks to you,both for being who you are and also for this lovely comment!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dearest Stella(r) ... What more can one say? I have read and re-read your piece and all I want to do it read it again and again. It's like listening to that perfect piece of music that hits every single note in your heart. ... You want to cry because it is so real yet you feel inspired to take on the entire world. ... May every single comment here remind you of the preciousness, pertinence, and the pricelessness of your voice. ... Thank you for BEEing Stella(r). ... I feel honored to LISTEN and honored to witness your amazing ability to CONNECT us ALL. ... It's written in your name "Stellar" is defined as: "Of or relating to a star or stars". ... Keep shining 'honey'. ... Love, Gratitude and enCOURAGEment to you always, all ways Kaleidoscope Girl.

"Write your life so others may be ILLUMINATED."

I can't decide how I should be - you are so loving, so encouraging, I feel like crying. And then there's so much homor, I feel like grinning like a fool. Hmm... why can't I do both at a time???

But thank you sssoooooooooo much,for the lovely, lovely message! No matter whatever I write, I can't express my gratitude enough!

So, how about giving you a big hug instead? And yes, you have got my ears forever,to listen to all your stories!

Love

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Cate

Thanks, both for being my friend and for this beautiful comment. To be able to appreciate and encourage others is a great quality and you have it so in you! I thank you too, for being inspiring yourself!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe

Dear Pushpa To know that you are reading the posts and, seeing in my head doing you that, I am being filled with a lot of love and gratitude! I can't thank you enough, but I am sure I am going to be a very happy person around here with someone like you!!!

Take care!

Stella Paul Twitter: @stellasglobe