Because I pushed education for myself so hard, despite odds, I found a self. I was able to construct one; I was able to push the limits and boundaries of my life. And so I thought education is important and I knew it wasn’t being done right.

- Dr. Urvashi Sahni, Founding President and Chief Executive, Study Hall Educational Foundation

One of the things I keep saying is that you have to be mad to be doing this. There has to be a madness. Whenever I go to NGO forums, or discover other organizations working on this issue, there is a certain madness that I see, which I think is love, because only when you are so maddened with love can you talk about the impossible things that we are all trying to do.

- Shailja Mehta, FORMER Executive Director, Aangan trust

The values at Aravind, and in all aspects of our life, begin with trusting a common person. Afterall, the world is not for anyone, the world is for everyone of us. Trusting each other. Helping each other. Hard work. That is: Not 90 hours of work, but passion to do work, whatever is close to your heart. Do it well and do it in a perfect way so it need not be done again.

- Dr. G. Natchiar, Ophthalmologist, Vice Chairman Emeritus, Aravind Eye Care System

After listening to them, I felt that these women are requesting a way to save money. They were not asking for money. They were not asking for grants. They were not asking for subsidy. They have found a solution -- that by saving money, they can improve their lives. Then why not start a bank? And this is how the whole idea for starting a women’s bank began.

- Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder AND CHAIR, Mann DeshI Bank; PRESIDENT, MANN DESHI FOUNDATION

I was with the UN for 27 years. I could not say it to the FAO or to the donors, but in my mind it was clear, and in my workshops it was clear: the work was based on friendship, love and solidarity. Because I believe technical solutions are not good enough. Human beings do not just have a mouth to eat. We have a soul. We have a mind. We have religions. We have cultures. So from the beginning, I knew all of these aspects were related.

- Kamla Bhasin, GENDER TRAINER, SOCIAL Activist, author; Co-Founder, JAGORI and SANGAT

I had a job composing at a printing press. This is where I first began. Everyday while I was there, I saw new stories about incidents of atrocities against women or young girls being harassed — someone being burnt for dowry. This is when I felt that something had to be done. And I wondered what it was we could do on our own.

- Nisha Chauhan, District Coordinator, Urmul Trust

Here was a woman from Rajput community, practicing purdah system and living within the confines of her home, who started to go outside and meet people. In particular, she was talking to men! So there was objection to it. But when I negated this resistance by not giving in and continuing to move forward, many other women came forward to work.

- Meena Bhati, Communications manager, Educate Girls

When my mom took a [marriage] proposal to a guy's family and said here is my girl and this is what she is doing in her life, the people said: well, we like her, but maybe we would not want her to do what she is doing after marriage. And that was the end of the story; so for the longest time I was not married. At one point I thought that maybe this is the price I have to pay for pursuing my dream.

- Sweta Mangal, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Ziqitza Health Care Limited

Sports is an area where women and girls exercise there individuality on their own behalf. They decide how to move in a particular condition, how to move in a particular situation.  They have to decide and act at the same time. And doing sports over and over again on their own behalf, by themselves, instills a level of confidence in them. What has been a part of my experience is sports as an empowerment activity for girls, particularly in the context of India. 

- Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary, All India Democratic Women's Association and Former International Volleyball Player