Power in the Pack
Grazia|January 2021
These women-led platforms give other women something to believe in
BARRY RODGERS

In the summer of 2020, my Instagram feed was peppered with a raft of celebs, influencers, and colleagues who began posting well-lit photos of themselves in black-and-white, usually accompanied with a caption espousing the virtues of women in general and maybe two to three women in particular with the hashtag #womensupportingwomen, #blackandwhitechallenge or #challengeaccepted. Although it’s unclear how exactly this latest challenge started – one iteration of the trend apparently originated from women in Turkey who were responding to growing frustrations over gender violence and femicide, there were several social media users who asked whether posting images of women who need our support (now more so than ever) would be more beneficial in aiding female empowerment. Then there were others who suggested that influential women with platforms use the challenge to promote female-led businesses. In keeping with the essence of the cause, here are a few noteworthy women-led platforms that are helping their tribe achieve goals, secure help, and find purpose.

SISTERS IN SWEAT

The story of Swetha Subbiah and Tanvie Hans, the founders of the Bengaluru-based Sisters in Sweat community exclusively for women, by women, stitched together by sport and wellness, began in September 2017, when Subbiah (a performance coach) introduced Schonali Rebello (a writer and female activist) to Hans (footballer and coach). Rebello instantly grew curious and requested Hans and Subbiah to organise a football-based fitness session for her and her friends. The two did not make anything serious of the conversation, but they obliged and booked a small ground that weekend anyway, with no expectations. To their surprise, 17 enthusiastic women turned up for the ‘no expectations, one-off’ session and it turned out to be a huge success. In fact, the ladies demanded a session every weekend.

“Through HIIT, indoor football, pilates, yoga, and dance sessions on Zoom, we now have active community members all over the globe, which includes more than 550+ women – from working professionals to college students and schoolgirls,” says Hans. Subbiah weighs in: “Our tagline embodies the cause that we support. From working with only-female trainers to collaborating with primarily female-led businesses, it’s what we firmly stand by in all aspects of our badass community.”

FUTURE IMPACT

“Imagine growing up in a family where you wake up on a Sunday morning and see your mum lacing her boots to go play football with her friends. We’d probably grow up with a slightly different world-view than many of us currently have. This is what happens every day in our community, and this is exactly the positive change we want to be able to make in the lives of not only our members but those that are around them as well,” says Hans.

UNITED WE CARE

Shumita Kakkar was at the peak of her career in 2019, after working in the corporate world for over a decade, shuffling between stints at multinational telecom companies like Vodafone and Samsung. Her Delhi-based start-up, 6T Seconds, founded in 2017, was tapping into the growing short-form entertainment sector with telecom heavyweights.

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