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17-yr old social activist used theatre skills and developed curriculum on gender equality


As a 17-year-old, how aware were you about the gender inequality in Indian society? Not much, right? Well, Diya Shukla, a Grade 11 student at the United World College South East Asia (UWCSEA), Singapore, is already a proficient supporter of women’s rights and is using means like theatre to mitigate their sufferings. She is also the founder of Vsupportindia, an NGO that supports women suffering discrimination in daily lives. Her vision for the Vsupportindia is as follows, “It is our vision to have a future free of violence, and one that provides equality, safety, justice, education, and hope for all.”
Diya, a level-headed youngster, became aware of the issue of domestic violence quite early in life. However, unlike the rest of us, she decided to take things in her own hands and change the status quo, rather challenge it, through her efforts. Today, she is not just a women’s rights advocate but also a successful social entrepreneur.
At UWCSEA, Drama was one of her favorite subjects that helped nurture a passion for theatre in Diya. Her close association with theatre at her college has taught her how to use it to solve many of the problems that we face in real life. Working for drama activities through her academic curriculum made Diya believe that mediums like Cinema or Theatre can play an effective role in policy making as well as in creating an impact upon the country’s law & order situation. Always on the lookout for engaging mediums to propagate her mission far and wide, Diya, after completing Grade-8 in acting from the Trinity College, London, also launched a theatre movement to educate underprivileged women about their rights. Her theatre team comprises of several domestic violence survivors as well as kids from an underprivileged background. They conduct street plays at different places to make the general public aware about the abuse suffered by women across the social strata. She recently staged street plays in Agra on the same.
Another flagship project of her, Vsupportindia is used to propagate the “We Support Curriculum”, which takes further the fight against domestic violence, by starting at the grass-root level, i.e., the school. Since young minds are the most impressionable, Diya believes that we need to teach young children at school about issues such as sexism, gender violence and sexual abuse against girls. In her words, “It is possible to intervene through education to prevent such attitudes from setting in. We have, therefore, put together this curriculum to help introduce young children to the importance of gender equality, respect and solidarity from the very beginning.”
Diya plans to introduce this curriculum to high school students everywhere. So far, more than 90 schools in India have agreed to make it a part of their regular studies.
Vsupport is completely Diya’s  baby. She has formulated its charter and she organizes the various activities under its tutelage. Among the various works that Vsupport does are –
1.    Rescuing and rehabilitating children and women
2.    Providing legal and clinically safe spaces
3.    Arranging shelters/emergency homes
4.    Encouraging skills for survival
5.    Workshops on busting domestic abuse myths and causes
Vsupport connect various domestic violence victims to:
1. Legal aid professionals who can assist them in cases of divorce or in getting a restraining order
2. Mental health professionals such as psychiatrists, psychotherapists and counsellors
3. Support systems via NGOs
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