One in every three women, since the age of 15, has faced domestic violence in some form, in our country.
And this issue has literally skyrocketed amidst the ongoing pandemic.
During the first four phases of the COVID-19 induced lockdown, women in India filed an alarming 86% more domestic violence complaints than recorded in a similar period in the last 10 years.
Trust me when I say this, it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Women, who have been a victim to physical abuse, are at an extremely high risk of experiencing severe mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic disorder, substance abuse, and also suicidal thoughts.
What’s more daunting is the fact that these women are left on their own to fight their battles and are even denied medical care. Simply because, mental health is a taboo in our society, even in the 21st century.
Hence, Riddhi Doshi Patel, who’s a Child Psychologist, Parent Coach, TedX Speaker, TED Advisory, and also an enthusiastic entrepreneur, took it upon herself to address all such issues through her forum, LAJA.
LAJA , founded in 2015, is India’s first forum for women that empowers them socially, emotionally, and economically. It is driven by a team of 21 humble, passionate, and dedicated professionals who are working day in and day out to transform the lives of women.
Till date, they have managed to shape the lives of close to 85 women. And, Riddhi shares with me the 2 most heart-touching moments in her journey of empowering women.
Incredible, isn’t it?
Riddhi is extremely compassionate and hard-working, and is going above and beyond to help women. She believes any change begins with creating awareness, therefore, she is leaving no stone unturned to do that.
Laja organises its annual program (named TATVA) every year wherein Riddhi, along with various other experts, talk about issues that are stigmatized. Last year, they educated people about extra marital affairs and this time, they will create awareness about mental health. (More on this below)
“This pandemic has brought out the insecurities of people and they have gone haywire. It’s high time someone talked about the importance of mental well-being and things people should do to lead a normal life,” says Riddhi.
Simultaneously, Riddhi also conducted live sessions in her parenting Facebook group during the lockdown to talk about mental health in children and senior citizens.
In fact, she was one of the four psychologists who was given access to the social media handles of Ms. Shweta Shalini, a spokesperson of BJP, to spread the word about mental health.
Stick with me as I’m going tell you about:
- The five segments under LAJA and how each of these are helping women
- The annual event of LAJA, i.e. TATVA 2020, when it will take place, and how it can benefit you
- How Riddhi is giving wings to aspiring children entrepreneurs
- How Riddhi uses her parenting Facebook group to help slum children
But before that, let me first tell you what inspired Riddhi to start Laja in the first place.
Lack of freedom for women set things in motion
In her teenage years, Riddhi came face to face with the fact that women are denied basic liberties when she saw her friends and cousins lying to their parents while going out for parties. A scenario uncommon in her house.
When she started with her mental wellness practice after completing graduation, she realised there is a lot of disparity in what women want and what they have. That’s when she felt the need for a space where women can share, express, and vent their emotions.
So, she decided to create a non-judgemental space where women can be themselves, overcome their inhibitions, and share things that they refrain from talking about.
And that’s how LAJA came into picture.
LAJA – For women, By women, With women
Spread in 6 cities including Bombay, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi, Surat, and Navsari, LAJA was founded for the sole purpose of empowering women.
Riddhi believes that until a woman is totally self-aware, only then will she be able to give back to her family and the community at large. And Laja is all about exploring the real ‘YOU’.
As Laja’s tagline says, ‘Behind a veil, there’s a strong woman’, the forum certainly brings that out. It works holistically on women empowerment.
Through the five different segments under it that aim to empower women socially, emotionally, and economically.
Let’s talk about each one separately now.
1. Movement Jam – Release all negative energies
Riddhi is connected with over 14,000 women on Whatsapp. In an attempt to help them deal with their emotions in a better manner, she along with her friend, Nancy Katyal, who’s a life coach, started the Movement Jam in April. (Because we all know how the lockdown had taken a toll on the mental health of people)
Riddhi used to broadcast the link of a zoom meeting every Friday at 7 PM in her Whatsapp group post which a lot of women would join.
They would vent their hearts out to Riddhi and her friend who would guide them. At the end, they used to have a 7-10 mins dance session. The aim was to help women release their negative energies through movement.
Currently, the movement jam is held on the last Friday of every month.
2. Soul Circle – Vent it out
This is yet another initiative started by Riddhi at the time of lockdown itself. While the movement jam motivated women and spread positivity in uncertain times, this initiative was totally focused on venting out feelings. It took place every Saturday at 9 PM over zoom.
“There were times when women would open about being beaten up and how they needed help. And the very next day, Laja’s team rescued them, made sure they reached a safe place,” tells Riddhi.
Have a look at the feedback Riddhi received from the women who attended Soul Circle.
3. Laja Growth Platform – Everything business
Now that the economy has hit an all time low and millions have lost their jobs, people have deviated towards business to earn a living.
That said, Riddhi guides, rather handholds the women who are willing to set up their own business. While all segments of Laja are totally free, this one is chargeable. At a fee of just INR 2000, women can seek guidance and be associated with Laja throughout their lives.
4. Laja Marketplace – Empowering Womenpreneurs
In April when everything was shut, Riddhi created a Facebook group, named Laja Marketplace and helped 39 sellers to earn their livelihood.
Initially it was free, but after one or two sellers trapped buyers, Riddhi started charging INR 300/month from the sellers to ensure that things move in an ethical manner.
Additionally, she trained the sellers herself to showcase and pitch their products in the best way possible. She also teaches them how to prepare a brand pitch.
5. Bootcamp – Launch a business in just 2 days
This final segment of Laja is totally offline. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Riddhi has decided to launch it in 2021.
In this, women will be taught the different ways to launch their business in just 2 days. They will also be able to connect with agencies which will be approved by Laja.
Now let me shed light on TATVA 2020, the most coveted event of Laja.
TATVA 2020 Pratibimb – Mental Health is IMPORTANT
Named TATVA – Pratibimb (meaning- you are a reflection of your thoughts), LAJA’s 2020 annual program focuses on mental health and awareness. It will take place online from October 04 to October 10 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 PM.
The program aims to bring together renowned Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Counsellors, Mental health fighters, survivors, as part of both audience and speakers who will discuss mental health in LGBT community, senior citizens, women, and children.
It is a great opportunity that will not only bust all underlying myths about mental health but also help you understand about it in detail – its symptoms, recovery, along with ways to lead a normal life. All this through panel discussions followed by workshops like art, theatre, doodle, movement, and others such.
“The workshops will help people understand their problems, how to work on them, and help them learn how to imbibe the same practice in their lives.” says Riddhi.
Check out the schedule for TATVA 2020 below.
A. For 4th and 5th October
B. For 6th and 7th October
C. For 8th, 9th, and 10th October
She reached out to NGOs, trauma rescue foundations, and even jail inmates and encouraged them to be a part of it.
While the event is totally free of cost for all these people, it is priced at just INR 153 for all those who can afford to pay. The money raised through these tickets will be used in educating slum children.🙂
“Until last year, all my programs were offline. Their tickets were priced at INR 1500 and they went housefull. But considering the horror that has dawned upon us, I want maximum people to attend, understand, and know about mental health. I want them to be aware and act accordingly,” says Riddhi.
If you wish to be a part of TATVA 2020 (which I’d definitely suggest), you can REGISTER HERE.
While this is all about how Laja is helping women, let me also tell you, they are also supporting young entrepreneurial minds.
How does Laja support aspiring children entrepreneurs?
It was last year when Riddhi launched this segment under Laja after being inspired by her little one. She saw how her 8 year old son was self motivated to sell his handmade stuff (like envelopes and pen stands).
So, as part of Laja’s 2019 annual program, Riddhi gave young brilliant minds 6 stalls to sell the products they made. And the response they got was amazing!
Since everything is online this time, she has created a Facebook page named Kiddies’ Souq for these children and 8 young sellers have already registered.
Besides, Riddhi is also contributing to slum children’s education with her parenting Facebook group.
How does Riddhi help slum children through her Facebook group?
Parent Tales is a parenting Facebook group that Riddhi created two years back. She uses Convosight to manage her group and earn through it. Have a look at the statistics of her group (engagement rate of 79.06% and activity rate of 30) below.
P.S. Considering these statistics is important if you want to know the health of your Facebook group. If you wish to know more about them and rest other metrics too, check out our blog on Track these 6 key metrics to improve your Facebook group engagement.
She has collaborated with a few brands like Johnsons, Dettol, Miracle Mom to name a few, provided value to her group members, and earned through it.
Sharing a recent post where Riddhi advocates about Miracle Mom as a platform that offers free expert advice and tips to moms and to-be moms.
Not only did all moms of her group benefit from this but the brand was able to increase its exposure. Simultaneously, Riddhi also earned through this collaboration post which she used all the money for the education of slum children.🙂
Riddhi’s message for every woman reading this…
Super inspiring, isn’t it?
If you wish to earn through your Facebook group too (like Riddhi and numerous other community admins) or simply wish to know more about how others are doing it, feel free to be a part of our Facebook group, Growth and Monetisation for Facebook Group Admins where hundreds of community admins like you are discussing this and so much more about Facebook group growth and monetisation.🙂