Driving Change: Championing Women’s Rights in India with Swati Maliwal

In a world where the struggle for women’s rights persists, a gut-wrenching video of an assault in Manipur recently shook us to our core. In a time where progress and equality have become the driving force, one question lingers in our minds: How far have women come in India when it comes to their rights? The answer might surprise you. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 report, India ranks a disheartening 140 out of 156 countries in terms of gender equality. But amidst the challenges lies a glimmer of hope, a beacon of change.

Swati Maliwal, the Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women joins Rajan Nazran on another thought-provoking episode of the Global Indian Podcast. She is the personality endowed with the responsibility of advocating and catalysing the transformation of women’s rights in the capital and beyond.

Delving deep into the heart of the matter, Swati Maliwal shares her experiences and insights on the pressing issues surrounding women’s rights in India. As we listen to her passionate advocacy, we witness the unwavering determination that has earned her a pivotal role in championing change. From her initiatives to combat violence against women to her relentless pursuit of justice, Swati’s journey exemplifies the essence of resilience.

But it doesn’t stop there. 

This podcast takes us on a captivating journey through the trajectory of women’s rights in India, reflecting on the milestones achieved and the road ahead. Swati’s unique perspective as Chairperson sheds light on the challenges that not only Indian women face but also those of the diaspora worldwide. In her words, we find the call to action for collective responsibility—a shared commitment to empowering women in India and beyond.

Ms Maliwal about her journey of fostering change and transforming the landscape of women’s rights in India. We delve into the challenges, the strides made, what is currently being done, the big misconceptions, what the world needs to be educated on and the vision for a more equal future.

This is an inspiring conversation that will ignite your passion for change. Join the movement and participate in this powerful journey towards a better tomorrow.

Tune in now to hear Swati Maliwal’s inspiring story and learn more about the work being done to champion women’s rights in India. Together, we can drive change.

Produced by Global Indian Series for the Global Indian Network.

Script by Rajan Nazran
original idea: Rajan Nazran

Introduction music: (Music credit: https://freesound.org/people/TheoJT/sounds/569783/)

About Swati Maliwal

Swati Maliwal is an Indian social activist currently serving as the Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women since July 2015. Previously she worked as the Advisor to the Chief Minister on Public Grievances. 

An engineer by education, Swati has revolutionised the functioning of DCW in the past seven years. She left her corporate job in 2006 to work for social causes. For the past 15 years, she has worked at grassroots and top levels of management in social movements, NGOs and the Delhi Government on varied issues, particularly women empowerment, anti-corruption, transparency and local self-governance in India. 

She was the youngest member of the ‘Core Committee’ of ‘India Against Corruption’ – the nationwide anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare in India in 2011. The Core Committee – a 24-member body included stalwarts like Mr Anna Hazare, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, Ms Kiran Bedi, Mr Prashant Bhushan and Mr Santosh Hegde, and collectively led the movement. Swati was the Coordinator of Delhi in the campaign and played an essential role in the drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill. 

She has participated in various protests over the years and was brutally lathi-charged while protesting against the gang rape of Nirbhaya in December 2012.

Swati took over as DCW chairperson on July 27, 2015. In her tenure as the Chairperson of the Delhi Commission for Women, she has initiated several programs for safeguarding the women and girls of Delhi. She has strongly advocated for anti-trafficking initiatives. She and her team have also been instrumental in rescuing several minor women from brothels, houses, spa centres and factories where women are forced to work against their will. 

After Ms Maliwal assumed charge in the Commission, a significant change was noticed in the working style of the Commission. The Commission has dealt with more than 1.23 Lakh cases since she took over in the Commission in 7 years, while only 1 case was handled by the previous Chairperson in 8 years. She has also conducted hundreds of visits and inspections during this time. 

Under her leadership, the Commission has launched several new initiatives; these are – Acid-Attack Watch and Survivor Support cell, Anti-Human Trafficking and Rehabilitation cell, Crimes Against Women Research cell and the 181 Women’s Helpline Programme, which was handed over to the Commission by the Delhi Government in February 2016, transgender cell, Cyber Crime Cell. Besides adding new programs, existing programs of the Commission, such as Sahyogini, Mobile Helpline, Mahila Panchayat and the Rape Crisis Cell, have been strengthened significantly. The number of Mobile Helpline vans has been increased from 5 to 22. The number of RCC lawyers has risen to 55 supporting survivors of sexual assault in lower courts in Delhi. The 181 Women Helpline has received 20 lac calls in the last six years of its operation.

Ms Maliwal has gone on a hunger strike twice in the past seven years, demanding strict punishment for rapists. In 2018, she sat on a hunger strike for the cause. After ten days of her hunger strike, the Government of India amended laws and introduced provisions of capital punishment for rapists of children. In 2019, she again sat on a hunger strike for 13 days. 

Ms Maliwal has also sent several policy recommendations to the government for women’s empowerment and ensuring the safety and security of women and girls. Many policy-level decisions have been implemented on the advice of Ms Malwal.

Swati Maliwal and her team at Delhi Commission for Women work tirelessly day and night to ensure a safe environment for women and girls in the capital and the country.

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