A Brief History

Neelam Chaturvedi, General Secretary

Neelam is an Indian women’s human rights defender and activist.

She works to create awareness about gender and caste violence in India and build networks to combat violence against women. She seeks to increase women's ability to participate in democratic institutions through capacity building and promote rehabilitation and counselling services for street children and children involved in child labour. She founded the first women’s shelter in her region and campaigns against violence and sexual harassment of women in her community. Her work for women's rights has been highlighted by Amnesty International. As a trade union activist in the 1970s she became involved in work on women’s issues within the trade union movement and in Indian society as a whole. She organised women workers to raise issues of physical and mental violence, the dowry system, rape, prostitution and sexual harassment. She is the founder or co-founder of Indian women's organizations including Mahila Manch, Sakhi Kendra and the National Alliance of Women's Organisations. She is a core member of the National Alliance of Women's Organisations (NAWO) and a leader of the Opposition (for the Democratic Party) in the NAWO's Indian Women’s Parliament.

Dr. Asha Tripathi, President

Retired Principal of Mahila Mahavidyalaya, P.G. College, Kanpur. Dr. Asha Tripathi has set an example in the field of social work specially women welfare. She has dedicated herself for education, social work. She was conferred with the award of “Jwell of India” in 2001 “U.P. Ratna in 2009. As a professor of Sociology she has 40 years teaching experience of U.G. and P.G. classes. She Obtained degree of M.A. and L.L.B. from Lucknow University, Lucknow and Ph.D. from Punjab University, Chandigarh under U.G.C. fellowship. She has supervised many of Ph. D.’s and M. Phill’s, and has published many articles and papers on different Social issues. Her book “Ramayan Mei Rajniti” is under the printing process. As convener/ organizing president, she has experience of so many seminars Workshops and Exhibition on different issues/ subjects. She has contributed a lot in the field of women, Adult Education, Eradication of Fund Infanticide, women welfare specially violence against Women State Women Policy etc. Presently she is working as Director, Shivlok Shikshan Sansthan, Kanpur. She is associated with Sakhi Kendra / Mahila Manch U. P., Kanpur as President, All India Conference of Intellectuals as Vice-President, Institute of Constitutional and Parliamentary Studies, Legislative Council U. P., Lucknow as Executive Member, Bharat Vikas Parishad Kanpur, as Programme Incharge etc.

Subhashini Chaturvedi, Vise President

She has done her masters in Sociology and MSW from Kanpur University. She is a part of this organization since 22 years, she has been performing several responsibilities like electing members for Sakhi Committees in each Slum, Mobilizing Community to initiate developmental work in their respective areas, solving area problems with the support of active community and women groups, counseling the cases of VAW (Violence Against Women) and other disputes at Community level. She has also coordinated the Campaign of ‘Formulation & Proper Implementation of State Women Policy '. At present she is organizing huge strength of domestic women workers at district level to move ahead for ensuring their human rights and she is also president of Domestic women worker sangh. In these 22 years of organizational Journey at present, she is holding the position of Vice president.

Archana Pandey, Secretary

She has developed skills over 22 years in counseling, as she is a part of this organization since 1994. She is a postgraduate in Human right from Delhi. Due to her sincere devotion for counseling on phone and in the office, around 4000 to 5000 victims have better options for life regarding their family life. Through her positive approach with victims, around 200 women human right defenders have actively working in field of women’s issues in and around Kanpur. She has given many awareness training like capacity building, gender, legal rights, and women’s right in various area of Kanpur.

Prachi, Joint Secretary

Prachi spent her childhood studying in different cultures of India due to her curiosity in art and folklore,  she started expressing herself through paintings inspired from social issues out of her natural curosity and sensitivity towards social work, she gained a lot of appreciation and popularity at an early age but refused to go commercial with her art. She later did her graduation in journalism from Hariyana and continued to pursue her interest in social work and arts through the medium of films in Mumbai. Prachi did research work for numerous production houses and directors, She later co-produced film ”shuruaat ka interval” which was released by PVR and got recognition across the country, she also did the research for a documentary on excessive usage of pesticides in India called “Irada”. In 2010 Prachi Joined Sakhikendra and Participated in Many social issue based campaigns becoming proficient in dealing with issues like gender, RTI, Health and social justice. she organised boost up rally for PV Sindhu and Sakshi Malik and is currently the president of sakhikendra’s dalit women parliament, she trained and empowered numerous women across the state (uttar pradesh) on the issue of gender and patriarchy. 

Prabhavati, Treasure

She has been a part of organization since 1994 and has fulfilled various responsibilities at district level to state level.. She had been involved in development of Women’s Groups & awareness programs for Dalit women & domestic women workers. So domestic women worker Sangh and Rashtriye Dalit Mahila Shakti have Formed.. She has given her considerable contribution for promoting women health and family planning. Her training program for youth on- RTI. , HIV. AIDS. Including capacity building and empowerment program for women. At present, she is holding the position and responsibility of Treasurer of the organization.

Pushpa, Executive Member

For the last 16 teen years, she has been associated with Sakhi Kendra. she received her master’s in Sociology from CSJM University and MSW from IGNOU, Kanpur. She has added the grace and glory to the organization by her remarkable contribution since joining. She has shown a lot of courage and intelligence to deal with the emergencies and provides a fearless environment to the women in distress who need instant support for their rescue. Her participation is admirable in lobbying and advocacy with senior administrative officers and media regarding her case work. She has dealt around 12000 emergency cases since 2003 to till now. She has given various training program on legal rights and capacity building for women’s empowerment.

Minakshi, Executive Member

Meenakshi Dwivedi..a management graduate from Indian Business Academy noida with HR and Marketing . worked as an recruitment as well as talent and acquisition specialist in IT with yahoo india in bangalore..later worked with reliance communications as an business anslyst..currently attached with Sakhi Kendra an esteemed internationalNGO as an core member. 

Archana, Executive Member

She has been an important part of our Sakhi Kendra since long time. she has prepared a huge network for women’s empowerment around 10 district. In present, she has working as an active human rights defender from Fetahpur.


Maya, Executive Member

Maya Kureel has done her Bachelor’s in Arts from Kalpi College, Jhansi, Bundelkhand University. She has been an important part of our Sakhi Kendra since 1996. Being from Dalit, Marginalized, and Gender biased background she had experienced the trauma of untouchability. After joining the organization, she has developed skills over the years in management of training and workshops on dalits’ rights, health of women and child, against child labor and their exploitation. Her work involves capacity building and spreading awareness among people of slums on the above issues. At present she is organizing dalit women as a huge strength as' Rashtriye Dalit Mahila Shakti' to inculcate leadership skills.

Nisha, Executive Member

She has an important part of our organization since long time. She has done her post-graduation & bachelor of education so she has running her own coaching center for poor students. Through this coaching, she has provided free education to those students who cannot pay fee for competitive exam. 

Ritu Shukla, Administrative Assistant

She has done her post-graduation in psychology and postgraduate diploma in psychological counseling from Vellore, Tamilnadu. She is technically proficient in Computer. Since 2012, she has been dedicating her skills and innovative ideas to the organization. She manages efficiently all sorts of drafting & documentation manually as well as on Computer and communication work, contributes in all organizational programs and activities with full zeal. 

Baby yadev, Computer operator

She is a very important part of our organization and has done her B.A honors from Bhagalpur university from Bihar and completed 1 year diploma in computer application and programing from I.T.I Kanpur. She has an experience of 10 year in the field of computer and assists in documentation through computer operations and records keeping as well designing of magazines. She actively participates in all organizational activities and programs.

Geeta Yadav, Emergency Help Line

She had been an active and eminent performer of Yuva Natya Manch (Cultural team of since 2003-2011. Conveyed message for society through 5000 plays and songs on social issues & challenges. Also participated in the national level program and in World Social Forum held in 2004. Since 2012 she has been given her assistance in EHL team to provide relief and justice to victims in distress. She also participates actively in various organizational Campaigns to curb violence against women. She has also provided several Self Defense trainings in slums and Colleges to adolescent girls to equip them with boldness & courage to face all adversities.  

Maya Singh,

Emergency Help Line

She is associated with the  organization since 2010 as an EHL leader and performs her duty well by helping women victims in distress facing violence or harassment. She feels pleasure in providing relief to those women and takes them in the process of justice. She had spread the wave of awareness and empowerment among women through several meetings and proper guidelines. As an EHL leader, each day comes for her with new challenges to face it bravely. Her efficient counseling on Mahila Help Line has given new hopes to lives of several people.

Aradhana Rawet,

Field Activist

She is a Postgraduate in social work from IGNOU. Being a Dalit youth leader she fulfill her responsibility of organizing the youth and to train them through capacity building programs. She also enables the networking between the government administration and youth group to get the solutions for their problems. Many youth cases have also solved with her cooperation by referring it to legal aid and counseling center in the organization. 

Sandhya, Field Activist

She serves the organizational endeavors through her field work and fulfills the responsibility of organizing domestic women workers and women human rights defenders. She spreads awareness among women groups about their human rights, inculcates leadership skills and inform them about the government beneficiary schemes to get them availed by marginalized needy people.  

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Advocate Rama Shukla, Legal Advisor

She is an experienced legal person associated with Sakhi Kendra since 2000 as a legal advisor whose valuable advises play an important role in case work, case study, and court process to take the victims in the process of justice. Not only this she always play an important role in sharing her views, opinions and expertise during think tank meetings, Seminars and women court

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Advocate Manju Pandey, Legal Advisor

 She has been providing her services to the cases being dealt by Sakhi Kendra as a    legal advisor to give relief to the victims seeking for legal counseling and advice to move ahead in the process of justice.

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Rakesh Agarwal, Accountant

He has been a part of this organization since 1996.. His sincere efforts facilitate the smooth ongoing of the organization. In all the events organized by our organization he provides his full cooperation with zeal and enthusiasm.

The imagination and vision behind the foundation of this organization was a dream laid in the eyes of a teenager girl wishing for a healthy society free from all kinds of discriminations like gender, Caste, creed, racial, religion and class based discrimination, which were prevalent in the society. The discriminatory scenario of society inspired her to go through various books and to have deep discussion with experienced and intellectual persons in the tender age of 13-16 years In search of answers for uncountable questions arising in her mind. With the conflicts going on in her raw-mind that how, could we anticipate and expect better development of people in imbalanced environment and how could they contribute the best to the society, finally the 16 year old girl initiate the journey with the determination to do something for changing the societal picture in positive direction.

Under environment of gender discrimination persisting in a family (which is the smallest unit of society) then a girl (from foetus till an infant, adolescent and young adult) being nurtured in  environment of gender discrimination will not be groomed in full bloom as somewhere her personality will lack proper physical, mental, sexual and spiritual development. The frustration due to the atrocities, violence, dominance, harassment, discriminations and status of subordinate experienced throughout in every phase of her lifegets reflected everywhere at home with family members and children, at public place as well as at workplace. Even she is unable to establish harmonious and productive relations in the working place and it affects her output at home as well as at the workplace of any sphere like academics, surgery, law or industry etc. finally it affects adversely on the economy, culture and politics of the country.

     At the same time the another half component of society i.e. of males having inherited patriarchal thinking, approach and gender biasness (being a father, brother, husband or son of concerned woman/girl) who is behaving deliberately or unknowingly as perpetrator of violence or torture himself in his own family or society also lacks due respect and affection at home by female members(mother, sister, wife or daughter) and at workplace by his female colleagues hence doesn't get smooth reactions or reverse behavior from that side and thus loses his balance and satisfaction in want of love, esteem and regards . This also disturbs his mental peace and badly effects his output at workplace as well as in the family & social life as his frustration gets reflected everywhere.

 Since individuals together make a family, families are the units of society and societies weave together to build a nation's infrastructure and finally the personality and output of an individual  affects the economy, culture and politics of the entire country. Hence if we want a better family, society and nation then we will have to uproot or eliminate all sorts of discriminations and discrimination generated violence from individuals, families and society.

This concept was in the basis of initiating our journey. Which flourished through association of more & more people with our mission. gradually several milestones were achieved and it made several questions clear before us along with providing their answers at every step of our journey . Further several questions arose and the progression went on to give us lessons and learning through experiences. Thus, process of clarity on our goal, aim & objectives and our vision as well as lucidity on various issues.

Initially our movementprogressed as “Trade Union Movement” in Kanpur(1977-78) with the trade union laborers of textile mills, Jute mills and leather mills. This modest movement branched into mightier wave with the active involvement of several slum residents, rural women and proceeded with the association of people at village, region, district, State and nation to fight for ensuring basic amenities for slum residents and rural areas, to move ahead the movements against the issues like Domestic Violence, Dowry Death and Rape etc. As a result a “Forum Against Rape And Dowry” was formed. These entire struggles began to shape the future of Sakhi Kendra.A provincial level conference was held at Kanpur during 28th Feb - 1st March’1981. The deliberations at the conference led to formation of “Mahila Manch” . It is an organization of women with comprehensive feminist orientation. Still there was a need of a creative and constructive organization which could be able to prevent the situation from being exaggerated and to solve the concerned problems before occurrence of severe crimes. Keeping it in mind in 1982 to deal with the same an organization supplementary to Mahila Manch came into existence as a separate entity to fulfill the desired role. We all know it as Sakhi Kendra which is working for Gender Equality and Gender Justice to built a healthy society. We can say the Mahila Manch and Sakhi Kendra are the two sides of a coin with different approach and strategy to achieve the same goal.

  The activists of Kendra made their mark in the entire city and the limits of their horizons broadened from handling local area problems. The range and target areas widenedfromslums to village, district , State and regional level and expanded to national platform by association of extensive strength of people. Which gave rise to the organization named ' Sakhi Kendra '  which had become a huge team who adopted social work as its life and passion and not just like profession, whether it is a fight for providing justice to any woman of any community like dalits, minorities and marginalized or any other excluded community or the issue of establishing good governance or the need of amendment in any Act /policy/ planning for it effective implementation, it has been striving for building a beautiful healthy society free from all kinds of discriminations and violence.

Our organization Sakhi Kendra has been striving un-ceased for social cause since last 34 years with full devotion and dedication. We hope that we all and our present team as well as the next generations will be performing with the similar intense fire and urge to bring positive social change until we achieve our goal. Since the dream of a teenage girl has now turned into a vast team of sincere, intelligent and devoted people. Our organizational work areas have emerged several other organizationslike ' Rashtriye Dalit Mahila Shakti ' ,  'Sakhi Gharelu Kamgar Sangh'  , 'Youth organization'  and'Activists working for ensuring good governance' and has acquired an incredible identity for its remarkable quadri-level strategies. 

Some of my memorable moments:

1.      Actively involved in the Swedashi mill campaign in the year 1977.

2.      Participated in the defense workers movement in 1978.

3.      In 1978 protested against the demolishment of slums.

4.      In 1978 we build a committee for working women.

5.      In 1979 I went to the jail first time during campaign and after that went to the jail so many times.

6.      In 1979 I was invited as a speaker by “Forum against Rape “at National level in Mumbai.

7.      In 1980 S.N.C.T. University had invited many important delegates and national level leaders to talk on the subject of women’s liberation and was only given 3 minutes to each of them but due to our new and innovative view they were given 15teen minute’s .this was  greatly encouraged me.

8.      In 1981 Mahila manch was founded.

9.      In 1982 Sakhi Kendra was formed.

10.  In 1984 participated in the pali Movement.

11.  In 1985 took part in many national level conferences and seminars.

12.  Between the year 1986-2006 worked at Kanpur (Sarsaul and  Bidhnoo) in 300 villages. we started work for women’s health, women’s empowerment, family planning etc.

13.  38 women stood for the election of corporater in the year 1988 in Kanpur. which is still an ongoing process .from 2000-2010,once 45 and then 48 women stood for the post of block officer and panchayat in order to empower them politically and train them to increase their leadership qualities.

14.  In 1989 the construction work started in Sakhi Kendra building.

15.  In 1990, the entire state of U.P along with Uttarakhand was divided in to ten zones in order to be more work efficient .there we organized women groups for , strengthening  and creating a friendly atmosphere with  other groupsfor  satisfactory work related to women’s issues.

16.  In 1995 I became a part of fourth women conference and taking the responsibility of U.P and Utterakhand.

17.  In Beijing (China) I met with many women representative of different countries and after that participated in many workshops, meetings, seminars and programs .through this programs I presented my view and learnt various things.

18.  In 1995 after journey of Beijing the National Alliance of women organization (NAWO) was formed.  So among the eleven members I was also a one of the founder and active member of this association. So this opportunity gave me to serve my nation.

19.  In 1998 ,as one of the eminent members of the women’s rights association ;I was invited by the American center of “cultural Affair department “for the exposal trip .by visiting 10 states and 20 cities such as San Francisco, Washington D.C., New york etc. I got an insight. We noticed that these organizations worked according to their culture .I learnt a great deal from them. on the other hand,. My view and thought were also highly appreciated .I got the opportunity to see Niagara Falls, statue of Liberty, president house etc.

20.  In 2000 I participated in Beijing +5 (Word Conference) in New York. i continuously participated in the CEDAW (Convention for elimination of all forms of discrimination against the women ) Beijing +10,15 giving me an opportunity to work in different countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand ,France etc.  

21.  In 2002 a phone call surprised me because its came from London. I was invited by Amnesty Internationaland the AGM of Canada and America invited me  as a speaker to discussion about” Stop Women Violence” .Through this exposure trip and 10days campaign, my speech, thought, view, were highly appreciated and I was highly honored by them.


As mentioned earlier, an important part of Sakhikendra’s team comprises of individuals who once came seeking for help and are now empowering other women across the region, Below is the list of such leaders and others we empowered through our campaigns.