When we author our own stories, the change that comes

Urmila Chanam
Posted January 22, 2019 from India
Chief Guest at the launch of Spunky Indian, a lifestyle magazine from Banani Vissta Media Group in Bengaluru, India on 20th January 2019

I delayed justice for myself for eight long years by keeping quiet about my injuries from the man who had vowed to protect me in the church in attendance of close to a thousand people of our congregation.

What kept me away from seeking help was the wide perspective nurtured in our society about good girl- bad girl, 'sanskari' married woman(translated from Hindi meaning one who is aware of cultural values and its rules and regulations, and leads his/her life according to it), the norm that a woman is best beside her husband, family honor, stigma of a single woman, divorced, widow, single mother or worst of all a woman who could file an F.I.R against her husband. 

I also had the biggest assumption that the day I walk into a police station and a court, justice would be waiting for me. That is the biggest mistake a woman can make when she is being physically assaulted by husband or partner.

Experience of fighting the most exhausting domestic violence court case, both financially and emotionally, taught me that laws alone cannot protect women.

Because laws are implemented by people and people host biases due to their upbringing and social conditioning.

A judiciary that believes that a woman should remain in a marriage even if her spouse may be a threat to her life and well-being, will never serve to protect her.

And in this way, perspectives held by the larger society go beyond just our internal thoughts but become the reason why somebody is denied justice.

There is a need to work on these perspectives at the same war footing as we work on laws.

Voices of women need to be nurtured so that the world through a woman's lens can be put forth. Our stories need to be penned down only by ourselves so that we can shift the paradigm from how the authors of patriarchy interpreted our lives since generations to a time when we can be the writers of our own destiny.

Being able to tell your story can be the first step to healing. To heal a society the platform and space for women to share their stories need to be built. The next steps that follow only lead to empowerment.

No matter what we write, what our story may be centered around, we still will tell a different story, differently.

And over time perhaps one day we will find that the courtroom has a judiciary which believes that safety and dignity of a woman are of far greater value than remaining married.

I serve as Ambassador and Encourager (both voluntary roles) in World Pulse, the largest network of women from 190 countries and my role is very simple. I nurture women's voices and it involves reading their stories, encouraging them to keep marching ahead no matter what their circumstances may be, sometimes give editorial support if they ask for it, share resources like a relevant article, workshop, training or even information on funding avenues. But I found sometimes only a comment against these articles are the best gifts for women who may have taken years to 'come out' in front of everyone. The larger goal from these interactions is to be able to have more and more representations of women, how they see their lives, the issues that affect her and the solutions she knows will work for her and others.

It is an honor to be the Chief Guest at the launch of Spunky Indian , a lifestyle magazine from Banani Vissta Media Group in Bengaluru (India) which is an initiative from another sister Banani Das Dhar hailing from where I come from- the northeast of India. There are so many inspiring people who have assembled here in Awfis in Lavelle road. I am deeply moved to hear their stories from Autism, parenting, creating an enabling space for performance from artists, journey from being a housewife to an entrepreneur, facilitating entrepreneurship among women in India, scaling heights by body weight management and positive thinking to managing artists and musicians. The evening has been such an eye opener to how each one of us can fulfill our dreams by believing in them first. Banani's vision for her magazine is to bring these inspiring stories to people and motivate them to achieve their dreams.

Media has such a critical role in shifting the power structures within our society. My dream for Spunky Indian magazine is for it to be able to give wings  to women who have the courage to weave a dream and make her believe in the the vast sky that awaits her. Just like World Pulse is not just about the stories on it but more about the women who wrote them, a magazine can also be a facilitator to self development for women around the world.

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This was my key note address as the Chief Guest in the launch of Spunky Indian on 20th January 2019, a lifestyle magazine in Bengaluru city, India where I wanted to speak about a different kind of journalism which builds the writer as much as it does the reader.

This post was submitted in response to Share Your Story On Any Topic.

Commentaires 18

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Dawn Arteaga
jan 22
jan 22

Urmila - beautiful Ambassador that you ARE - thank you for sharing this story and I am so sorry that justice did not come to you in the way needed. I am so grateful it did not succeed in silencing your voice. The world NEEDS you! I am so grateful we are connected through World Pulse. - Dawn

Urmila Chanam
jan 22
jan 22

Yes my sister Dawn I am so glad we have found our home that's World Pulse. All the wrongs cannot be corrected. By finding a life that is happy we undo all the bad that happened.

Love and hugs from India
Urmila Chanam

Anne Dupont
jan 22
jan 22

Urmilla—you continue to amaze me every time I see you on film or read one of your stories. I am so thankful for the work you do and the impact you make in the world each and every day. Thank you.
With deep gratitude, Anne

Urmila Chanam
jan 22
jan 22

Dear Anne,

We are one, let us walk ahead together carving a special path for us. Thank you for reading my stories. Its always a challenge to find time to write and also when you are in action writing is tough and when you finish other things crop up. Thank god I am moved because I understand the importance of sharing, inspiring and learning from each other. That is what World Pulse taught me that our own journeys are relevant to others.

Love and prayers
Urmila Chanam

Olutosin
jan 23
jan 23

My Angel, Thanks for speaking out. Your voice is liberating.
I always tell people, if you don't want me to say it , then dont do it to me. If you beat me, i will tell everyone.

Urmila Chanam
jan 24
jan 24

Dear sister Olutosin,
You are a role model of every woman. By telling others of what people do to you, you negotiate for your safety and well- being, well. Thanks for being a champion and setting example.

Love and kisses,
Umila Chanam,
India

jlanghus
jan 23
jan 23

Hi Urmila,

Thanks for sharing your powerful key note address and for being such an outspoken and empowered role model for women in India fighting for their rights. It's great that you were invited to be the chief guest for the launch of Spunky Indian:-) I'm glad that you submitted this post to be considered for a story submission as I think it's a strong piece.... good luck:-)

Hope you're having a great day!

Urmila Chanam
jan 24
jan 24

Dear Jill,

Daily experiences both professional and personal are my favorite stories because this is present and not in the past or the future. Many public events and gatherings in group interactions give me ample opportunity to talk about how coming together can address our issues like I have found it on World Pulse. Thanks for reading my story entry sister.

Love from India
Urmila Chanam

jlanghus
jan 24
jan 24

Hello dear:-)

That makes sense. You're welcome:-)

Hope you're having a great day!

Urmila Chanam
jan 27
jan 27

Yes, sister Jill, I am doing well and engaged in planning for this year. These months and weeks though they are a lot quieter than other months, are so much of desk work and meetings. Hope you are well.

Love and hugs
Urmila Chanam

jlanghus
jan 28
jan 28

Good to hear, dear, that you're doing well:-)

I am doing quite well, thanks!

XX

Millynairi
jan 26
jan 26

Urmila, thanks for sharing your story. You are a true ambassador and you have continued to make impact. You have always encouraged me. Thanks alot

Urmila Chanam
jan 27
jan 27

Thank you Milly for your kind words. I am glad you feel supported because World Pulse is the place where you will find unconditional encouragement. It has taken us women so many generations to open up. When we speak we are speaking for all our women relatives who never spoke up or for women before us. Today I read your beautiful article on your mother. It brought tears to my eyes. Keep writing, keep moving ahead.

Prayers and hugs
Urmila Chanam
India

My dearest sister Urmila,
You spoke well. You spoke the truth, many times women are trapped in marriages beacuse of the norms of society. Women are not allowed to be who they are or what they want to be because society has already put standards and boundaries. We need more women to speak out against these cultures and norms.
Thank you for sharing. Stay blessed

Urmila Chanam
jan 27
jan 27

Dear Anita,
I am glad you see how many women are suffering in abusive relationships, homes, work places, public places, facilities- every where. The expected outcome is not more women living a single life or being divorced as people believe can be the only outcome of defying such violence but the perpetrators understanding that women will not keep quiet and reforming their behaviors instead.

Love
Urmila Chanam
urmila.chanam@gmail.com

Aurora-Transformation
fév 05
fév 05

Thank you for sharing your story, I think you are very brave!

Colleen Abdoulah
fév 08
fév 08

So good to hear from you today at our board meeting. Thank you so much for all you are doing to make a difference. Blessings my dear sister!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan

Dear Sister Urmila,

You are such an exceptional communicator. I feel so honored to hear you speak and see you in the online space.

Words fail me for I couldn't express my admiration of you for who you are and what you do. You are a priceless gem in this sisterhood. May you touch and inspire women. May your territories and influence expand. May you mentor more women to be as indominable and unstoppable as you are.

Thank you for working hard and for sharing your journey.

Love and hugs,

Karen