Sweeping statementhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/sweeping-statement/

Sweeping statement

Abhyan team has been organising cleaning drives to spread the message of women empowerment

Abhyan team has been organising cleaning drives to spread the message of women empowerment

When 30-odd women landed at Churchgate station,commuters who may have thought they were participating in a flash mob,would have been off the mark. The group had assembled to clean up the station. Soon they brought out brooms,buckets and mops and began cleaning the platforms and local trains.

The women are from Abhyan,a women’s organisation set up by architect and social activist Shalaka Lalwani. “Every month we organise a public service activity along with our usual activities. We have already conducted a very successful cleanliness drive on June 26 at CST. On July 27 there was a drive at Sion Hospital. A lot of debris including broken glass was removed in a similar drive at Bandra West Bus Depot on August 29. We also removed illegal posters and pan stains,and cleaned up the subways,’’ said Lalwani.

Lalwani,a well-known architect and proprietor of COBOL Architect & Planners,has been a social activist since 1999. She has been trying to make a difference to underprivileged women.


Abhyan was started two years back and is managed by an all-woman team. Abhyan generates opportunities and gives independence to underprivileged and unskilled women. “So far,we have over 350 women with us. By organising the drive we want to bring to the notice of our city that women contribute to society and need due recognition and consideration in job opportunities. Through our cleaning drives we give a free sample of our work as well,’’ said Shalaka.

The women got tremendous support from corporates and industries,which made it possible for Abhyan to thrive.

There are many women who got jobs through Abhyan,transforming their lives. Anju Kagda,28,is one of them. The mother of four was earlier into housekeeping. Her husband is a labourer and running the family was difficult for her. But now she is a supervisor at an office in Wadala run by Abhyan.

“Now I get Rs 3,500 a month. Right now,Abhyan trains women in assembling parts of meters. I am supervising it. Abhyan is also going start a training programme in food packaging. This job has changed my life. Now I can provide good education to my children,’’ Anju said.

Abhyan aims at improving lifestyle of women and is a powerful women entrepreneurship organisation conceived by Shalaka. She says ‘women in urban India do not need support but opportunity.’

“When a woman progresses,a family progresses. Their growth percolates through many layers of the society,says Shalaka.