GOWA : Guild of Women Achievers
The brainchild of Chhaya Srivastava, this organisation was founded in 1996. Having herself been a victim of workplace harassment, she felt that the society needs more such bodies to safeguard the rights and concerns of the modern educated women. GOWA is basically a women’s movement with a difference that attempts to address the different issues faced by women by linking them on a large scale through global networks.
The objective is to motivate women so that they are able to maximise their potential and attain personal and professional growth by means of networking. Women from various fields can access each other’s products/talents/knowledge/expertise and goodwill. Over the last 16 years, this forum has gained a membership of approximately 1000 women from diverse walks of life, hailing from 7 different countries. Any woman of and above the age of 18 can have a membership and get in touch with each other through GOWA.
Its core principle is to take responsibility for one’s own life, its core policy is being a friend to another woman and encouraging women achievers, and its greatest strength is the empowering of women helping them tap their potential to the fullest. It runs a wide range of activities for the welfare and betterment of women, such as a free family counselling centre, legal aid centre, heath club, programmes in education institutions, conducting exhibitions (for women to market their products), awarding women achievers, conducting seminars/workshops for women, conducting training to enhance women’s’ skills and enable them to be economically self-reliant, linking women’s groups to help them market home-based business activities etc. It also provides amenities to underprivileged rural girls as a part of its SEVA project.
GOWA has also played host to volunteers from USA, Canada, Australia and Germany. It boasts of having brought together women achievers from diverse fields including advertising, architecture, banking, engineering, scientists, software professionals, doctors, beauticians, teachers, writers, homemakers and what not!! What’s more, a mobile health van under the banner ‘journey of service’ is also operated by GOWA. It reaches out to the community in the urban slums of Bangalore, rural schools and educational institutions, besides providing free health check-ups, generic medicines, counselling, legal aid etc.
It also has a book club that acts like a working woman’s guide to a better life. It has separate chapters addressing women-centric issues such as parenting, kitchen management, dealing with abuse/harassment etc. Besides, it contains a do-it-yourself kit that is recommended for teenage girls, personal philosophies and success stories of women achievers such as Kiran Bedi, a compilation of the biographies of inspirational and influential women who have carved a niche for themselves in primarily male-dominated fields of work. The books also consist of pre-marital tips and advice that will come handy for every bride-to-be, must-haves for every woman who intends to start her own enterprise, different ideas for start-up etc.
Currently based in Mysore, this organization has had many landmarks on its journey towards a noble mission. It is sure to witness many more landmarks on its way, which will usher in better times for countless women as well.