“A woman should have the liberty to choose who and what she wants to be.”
– Vijay Darda
Vijay Darda has steadfastly advocated women’s rights and improvement of their political, social and economic status in the country. He was among the first to support the Women’s Reservation Bill (2008) as a Member of Parliament that seeks to reserve one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies.
Darda encouraged his wife Jyotsna’s vision to set up a forum exclusively run by the women for the women and of the women, which gave birth to ‘Sakhi Manch’ in 2000. In no time, the forum became a popular household name across Maharashtra with over 4 lakh members and inspired several other women-centric organisations across the country.
Sakhi Manch recognizes the personal dilemma of homemakers who completely dedicate themselves to the needs and expectations of the family folks while compromising with their personal desires and ambitions. The forum has made its mission to give the modern Indian woman a platform to express herself and prosper in the society.
The forum regularly undertakes workshops on genres like health, beauty, cooking, parenting, music, drama, personality and career development. It also organises a variety of entertainment events every month, including foreign and domestic trips thereby promoting interactivity, networking and social harmony.
Lokmat under Darda’s guidance launched Beti Bachao campaign for prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination and ensuring protection of the girl child. Health camps were also organised in collaboration with medical and dental colleges, to conduct women’s full check-up and inform them about factors that impact their wellbeing.
Under the leadership of Darda, Lokmat Media Group also initiated the annual Women’s Summit held in Pune from 2011 onwards. It focuses on the pressing issues faced by women and transforming them into better leaders of tomorrow. Every year, the event has been graced by eminent female personalities from all walks of life.
The summit also recognises and salutes women achievers, who have been silently working for making a better society and whose contribution goes largely unnoticed. UNICEF along with other leading organisations have also collaborated in this social initiative to enlighten, encourage and empower women.
As a Parliamentarian, Darda introduced two Private Member’s Bills on ‘The Prevention of Atrocities on Women’ and ‘The Divorced Women (Protection and Welfare)’ in 2007. He proactively participated in debates regarding the inhuman condition of women in mental health institutions and increase in crimes against females in metropolitan cities.
Lokmat Media Group under Darda’s guidance, published two editions of Urjita – Mahila Din Vishesh in 2016 and 2017 on the occasion of International Women’s Day. It was a part of the group’s initiative to showcase the strength of women and to celebrate womanhood. It comprises inspirational stories of women leaders from all walks of life who have set an example by overcoming social struggles.
In Darda’s research report of Harvard program on Religion, Conflict and Peace, he highlighted the plight of women being most vulnerable to physical assault, social discrimination and psychological abuse during riots and wars. He earnestly supports initiatives that strive to alleviate their woes and elevate their status in the society.