Shakti is an organization that believes that all women, regardless of their literacy levels, should have the information and opportunities they need to enforce their legal rights. Meghana Chandra, a lawyer from India, and Mariana Botero, a social entrepreneur (both UChicago aluni) with a passion for gender empowerment, are bringing their expertise together to address the significant barriers faced by Indian women with low levels of literacy in understanding and accessing the legal system and public health resources.
Shakti leverages the high mobile penetration rate in India to reach out to women who are otherwise cut off from the legal system. We create audio and visual content that provides
- legal information
- plans of action, and
- access to legal and public health resources
Women can call us and navigate an automated Interactive Voice Response System. We develop content on issues that affect women in India. Starting with Domestic Violence, we plan to cover Sexual Harassment, Rape, and Divorce, among other pressing issues.
The content delivery caters to users because it is:
- simple and accurate
- continuously accessible
- in local languages
While most people search for, and access legal information through self-help literature online, or through books and flyers, women who cannot read are completely cut off from this rich public good. Moreover, lawyers in India are not allowed to advertise, therefore, functionally illiterate women are further set back by having to rely on personal referrals and proximate knowledge in order to access legal resources.
When people understand their rights and are aware of the options that are available to enforce those rights, the probability that they will seek help increases. In contexts where people have limited information and access to legal resources, people often refrain from reaching out for help.
Shakti will begin in Bengaluru in the local language of Kannada. The Pilot will begin with a call-in Interactive Voice Response system and will focus on Domestic Violence. To reach the women and raise awareness about the product, Shakti will partner with organizations who interact with target beneficiaries, such as hospitals and microfinance institutions.