Hyderabad: Standing up for women’s right and looking at creating a safer society for them has become second nature to Elca Grobler, whose Hyderabad-based NGO, My Choices Foundation is working towards ending violence, abuse and sexual exploitation against women and girls across the country.
Leaving a high-paying job in investment banking and finance in Sydney, to follow the call, Elca shifted to Hyderabad in 2011. “I have always been involved in community work even when I was in Sydney. Fight for women’s right is a matter very close to my heart. Having travelled to various countries, we decided to start something in India,” she said.
After meeting several women groups in and around the city, and understanding their issues, Elca founded My Choices Foundation, in 2012.
“Although India has one of the most progressive laws in the world against domestic abuse, women didn’t know about it. Hence we started with a helpline where we would counsel the couple or if needed even help women,” explains Elca.
Today, My Choice Foundation has grown in stature and has become an NGO of repute in addressing domestic violence and sex trafficking in India.
Ask the founder how the NGO ventured into helping sex trafficking victims, and she quips, “It was the women who reached out to us. We would receive calls about a missing cousin or an aunt. While many work to rescue and rehabilitate such victims, we realised that not many work in the field of spreading awareness”.
To spread awareness on precautionary measures, Elca started organising workshops. “Most trafficked girls are from villages. So, we started conducting workshops in villages, where we would not only educate girls, but also their mothers, fathers and even young boys. We tell them about how traffickers operate.”
The organisation today works in over eight Indian States and recently Mahabubabad became their 5000th village for conducting such a workshop.
For her efforts to curb gender-based violence, Elca has been awarded the 50 Most Impactful Social Innovators award and AGSM Alumni Award for Social Impact and Public Policy. In 2020, Elca was recognised as one of the 101 Impactful Global CSR Leaders, by World CSR and World sustainability congress and World federation of CSR Professionals.
“We can’t afford to stop now. There are a lot of girls who need help,” shares Elca, whose team did not stop working even during the pandemic.
Elca helps resolve over 8,828 cases
Elca, who now considers herself a true Hyderabadi, has helped peacefully resolve over 8,828 cases of domestic violence and has empowered over 2.3 million individuals living in high-risk areas. Through its anti-trafficking initiative, My Choices Foundation has established the first national helpline exclusively for trafficking, and is leading the coalition effort to prevent sex trafficking.
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