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Twenty-five years ago, 7 Indian-American women founded Daya to provide culturally specific services to South Asian women impacted by domestic violence. Daya has grown tremendously in the last quarter of a century – services have expanded, staff has grown, and we have broadened our image of who is a survivor and the many types of abuse we need to address. Today, on International Women's Day, we hear from one of our trailblazing founders, Viji Raman, about her passion, her hopes, and her legacy.

Women may be left vulnerable in any society and violence against women is one of the most pervasive fundamental violations of women’s human rights. I want to continue my work for their empowerment, independence, improvement of their financial and educational status, and most importantly, their safety.

Daya has successfully crossed many milestones in bringing about positive changes in many women’s lives in the past twenty five years. In order to propel forward we need to provide the wheels, gears and engines to this organization – which means more programs for women and children and also the marginalized minorities and more outreach efforts to bring awareness. We can’t remain complacent about our past accomplishments

The most common form of violence that affects girls and women worldwide, both in developing and industrialized nations across all ages, and socioeconomic statuses is Intimate Partner Violence. Violence against women and girls occur because of long standing systemic gender inequalities in countries all over the world. As a first generation Indian American, I know firsthand the challenges that immigrants have faced. Struggling to balance life, living in two cultures, gave me a unique perspective about life.

Moving forward, I’m focused on the legacy I want to leave for my daughter, son, grandsons, and granddaughters. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin. I want my grandsons to respect boundaries and understand the meaning of consent. I want to teach them that sexism is neither cool nor funny. I want to have conversations about empathy and healthy relationships. I want to teach my granddaughters to set and maintain strong boundaries, not be “people –pleasers”, and to have the courage to walk away when necessary.

Violence against women is a global issue which we can’t ignore. We have to strive to reach that goal – when women’s safety and wellbeing is addressed by both men and women universally.

Let us celebrate this International Women’s Day by paying tribute to all the innocent and helpless women who succumbed to violence and vow to be proactive to end violence against women –taking one step at a time.

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