~ The Foundation invited leading women from different walks of life to visit Sursingpura village - the project site of the foundation wherein they are enabling 1250 empowered women through access to water, and co-design a grassroots leadership program for 10 selected women ~
Jaipur, 08 March 2023: “You have the wings, now all you have to do is fly,” says former badminton player Aparna Popat, a multiple time medalist at the Commonwealth Games and record-holding National champion. The 45-year-old was a part of the nine-member trailblazing women’s team that went on a traveling motorcade to the village of Sursingpura in Sambhar block in order to experience the work being done on-ground by Rajasthan Royals’ philanthropic arm – the Royal Rajasthan Foundation.

The Foundation invited women leaders from various walks of life to join them in a motorcade to this small village situated 55kms from Jaipur, and mark the launch of a specially curated initiative known as the Shakti Drive and celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day. Along with the highly decorated Popat, the leadership group comprised of India’s first MBA-completed Sarpanch (village Soda, Tonk) - Chhavi Rajawat, Ex-Vice President of Bengal State Women's Sports Association and Member of RRF’s Advisory Council - Jyoti Kanwer, Head of Diversity Equity Inclusion for APAC at Uber - Ritika Khullar, Founder of Dolce Vee - Komal Hiranandani, Chief Human Resources Officer at Sony Entertainment – Manu Wadhwa, Owner of Urvashi’s Retreat and Member of RRF’s Advisory Council - Urvashi Singh, Founder of Kitaabo and Member of RRF’s Advisory Council - Ira Sisodia, and Founder of Kiku - Karishma Sahani.

The purpose of the drive was to celebrate the women leaders at the grassroots of Rajasthan, and provide them with an opportunity to share learnings, experiences and immerse in meaningful conversations with leading women from various industries. With the Royal Rajasthan Foundation’s belief that women have the innate power to lead; especially in economically and socially challenged communities, this Shakti Drive serves as the first step in creating a holistic Leadership Program for the women living in the rural areas.

“The overarching ambition is to break the cycle of poverty by enabling women to become conscious of their empowerment so that they can live their full potential given the right opportunities. Our mission is not just to reduce barriers  which disproportionately impacts women such as short-term access to water through rain water harvesting but also creating long term solutions such as planting of endemic trees, facilitating door-step livelihoods which leads to holistic growth for our women, communities & nation at large,” said Ranjit Barthakur, Chairperson, Royal Rajasthan Foundation.

“The idea behind conducting this drive was to bring together women leaders across grassroots, corporates, business, social impact, sport and administration for a co-learning experience in the rural heartland of our home state, Rajasthan.” he added.

Jyoti Kanwer, who has worked in the field of women's participation in governance & Panchayati Raj institutions, said, "I was amazed at the clarity of thought and grit displayed by the women. They are already aware of what they need to live empowered lives - thus making this event all the more critical as we got to learn from them first hand; enabling us to co-design a better program solution."

The Shakti Drive saw the guests being hosted at the village by Bhuri Devi, who is one of the grassroots women leaders and part of the Self Help Group (SHG) being trained by the Gram Chetna Kendra (GCK) with support from RRF. These leading women were shown around the village wherein the Foundation has worked towards enabling the livelihoods through water harvesting and conservation, tree plantation, as well as providing financial literacy for better fiscal management.

The biggest takeaway from the drive was the vision boarding exercise that took place between the two sets of women – with the objective of eventually creating a curriculum for a leadership program that will assist several young women from Sambhar block to take up ownership of both theirs and their families’ overall progression in the society, and consequently lead empowered lives. While Chhavi Rajawat presented her vision of women-led community development through multi-stakeholder collaboration, Jyoti Devi wanted to learn how to ride a two-wheeler so she could take her daughter to school 10 kms away. This leadership program will be launched by the Foundation this year after an in-depth program designing process.

While the Shakti Drive was an eye-opener for some, for others - it brought them closer to where they want to be – in the heartland of India, making an impact on society and truly helping the empowered women of India to excel, and actively contribute in the overall progression of our country.