2,500 years ago the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: everything changes and nothing remains still... ..you cannot step twice into the same stream Gandhiij said live the change you want to see in the world.
Change means very different things to different people. It is embraced by those who can glimpse better lives and futures for themselves and others. We live in an era in which enormous differences in the pace of change between and within different societies, can bring about clashes and conflict, sometimes violent, in families and households, communities, cultures and nation-states. The pace of change is unpredictable, rarely smooth, sometimes terrifying. For human beings the question is whether we choose to be bystanders, or choose to be active agents of change in the world – change which goes beyond merely sustaining life, and seeks to enhance it.
Young girls and women associated with Nishtha are one way or another ‘makers of change’, embracing change in their own lives, and promoting change in the institutions of which they are a part – in the family, household, community, voluntary and private sectors, and the state. They have chosen not to be bystanders. Attitudinal change is a key to the change and discussion revolves around the influences on a person’s attitudes of both social norms and sanctions, and private or personal relationships, and what the interplay is between these influences.
Appreciation of constraints and challenges is central to measuring what has been the change and by how much. Applying indicators in blanket manner to measure change on issues such as VAW may provide only a partial view of the truth. The social and cultural contexts of the women are much important in assessing the kind of changes women have been able to bring in their lives.
In this section we have changed the names of the women and girls who have willingly shared their very personal stories with us.