Hello Earthlings, it’s Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth. I’m here with another special guest who stared down this pandemic and created an amazing resource to help women and girls facing violence. Please help me in welcoming Aditi Sivakumar founder of My Empowerment Platform.
Spiffy: I’m really excited to hear about your initiative. It’s a bit of a phoenix, rising out of this pandemic in a matter of months. Can you tell me what challenge you’re addressing?
Aditi: I am working towards ending gender-based violence. I serve as a peer supporter where I provide emotional and social support to women and children who are facing violence. I plan community-based events to advocate for ending violence against women and children. I also founded “Everyday Essential Express (Triple E Delivery)”, a contactless delivery service for domestic violence shelters across the Ottawa, Canada region, during the pandemic.
Spiffy: What created the motivation for you to do this?
Aditi: By volunteering at a local domestic violence shelter and speaking with the residents, I came to better understand some of the challenges they were facing. After witnessing first-hand the injustices that were occurring in my community, I knew I needed to make a change and help a population that was so close to my heart. Creating different initiatives and seeing the impact they are having provides me with the motivation to continue my activism work.
Spiffy: Can you tell me more about how you’re helping to create equity in your community?
Aditi: Sure, Spiffy. I have created various programs, such as free tutoring services and spa nights, at local domestic violence shelters. I founded “My Empowerment Packs”, which are wellness kits for youth facing homelessness and women facing violence. “My Empowerment Packs” contain basic necessities, and resource booklets — one of the first in my community — that outline a variety of services (sexual and reproductive health supports) that all women and youth can access.
Spiffy: This sounds so accessible, Aditi! Now, tell me about My Empowerment Platform and how this initiative is creating an impact.
Aditi: Well, “My Empowerment Platform” is a web application for women and girls experiencing violence during the pandemic. It provides educational and medical resources and other tools that are specific to the pandemic, such as online and text-only crisis lines. The information is provided within a Canadian context, however, it may also be applicable to different countries across the world.
My Empowerment Platform provides support to women and girls during the Covid-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of Aditi Sivakumar)
Spiffy: Wow, so this has all come together for the pandemic? I’m amazed how quickly you’ve managed to do this! I have to ask — have you ever experienced failure?
Aditi: Of course, Spiffy! You know, one thing I have dealt with, and continue to face, is allowing my own self-doubt to interfere with my goals. At times I doubt whether my ideas or initiatives will make a difference, or I doubt if I can actually help end an injustice such as gender-based violence. To overcome my own insecurities, I remind myself of all the successes and achievements I have had, and all the lives I have helped. By doing so, I am able to overcome any self-doubt that I may be feeling.
Spiffy: That takes a lot of awareness, Aditi, which it sounds like you have! I’m curious, is there anything else you’ve learned this year?
Aditi: What I have recently learned is, “It’s okay not to be okay, but it’s not okay not to ask for help”. The year 2020 has been exceptionally hard for many people. We’ve seen a rise in racial discrimination, mental health struggles, and gender-based violence. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that it is important to acknowledge when you may not be okay and reach out to those around you who can support and uplift you.
Spiffy: Absolutely! I’m so glad I reached out to you! Do you have any parting words to leave with our audience?
Aditi: Yes, Spiffy, I’d love to tell them that many times I think our own insecurities hold us back. We may feel as though our actions, ideas, and skills won’t make a tangible difference. However, if you see a problem within your community and you believe that you have a solution, my advice to you is to go for it. Apply for funding, look for organizations that you can partner with to help you develop your initiative. We all have an important role to play in making our world a better place and we all can be a part of the solution.
Spiffy: Thanks a million for telling us how you’re making a difference and being part of the solution, Aditi. I think you are going to inspire a lot of people. It’s time for me to take this inspiration and fly. Over and out!
Aditi Sivakumar is a medical student, leader, and activist who is passionate about gender equality, with a focus on ending gender-based violence. She founded various projects to help women and children facing violence including, The My Empowerment (ME) Packs, The Empowerment Platform, and Everyday Essential Express (Triple E Delivery).