My Safe Space, My YWCA

Manisha is a Board Member, programme volunteer and a student  of social work at the YWCA of Bangalore City, India. She has been involved in the community development initiatives of her local association for many years and feels that the YWCA  movement has given her a family and support system that she always needed.

There has been an immense intergenerational bond within the YWCA of Bangalore City. To me, the organisation has provided a platform to understand, associate, lobby for various social issues that are affecting the very fabric of society. Our national movement, as the YWCA of India and our global movement around the world has contributed to the remarkable collective change and evolution with the emergence of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation. The YWCA of Bangalore City has not only been a source of strength and support but also has been a beacon in enhancing my potential, skills and appreciating my abilities.

As an individual who identifies herself as a lesbian, I feel I am part of the sexual minority, and the hardest part for me was acceptance. As a person who was brought up in a stigmatised society “being out of the box” only meant you must be what society chooses to accept as ‘out of the box’.

Finding my own alternative identity left me judged, homeless, without a family, rejected from peers, survivor to a lot of ridicules, abuse and sarcasm. It has really not been easy to make it this far and the journey will continue to be tougher still. However, I still feel completely liberated that I have come to terms with myself and will do my best to break stigmas and mind barriers. There is a long way to go for the deliverance for LGBTQ community here in India. All the fights for rights and freedom come with a price.

Being given the opportunity to be a board member in my association was indeed a surprise and out of the blue for someone like me. I have always needed to feel that I matter in some way. I recognised it as not only a huge opportunity of leadership but also a great proactive experience with other leaders on the Board. The difference of opinions and diverse perspectives can be a challenging factor but there has been immense encouragement and support from the older members of the organisation. I am both grateful and proud that my Association is a safe space I can truly call my own