Global Executive Director
In October 2015, Masooma Ranalvi wrote a blog about her experience of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her blog described the horrific experience of being circumcised as a little girl without consent or preparation. What she didn’t know then was that she had just initiated the crowdsourced movement against FGM in India. She started a petition on Change.org to gather more public support for her fight to ban FGM. An issue that hardly made news in India is now being widely reported and several organisations stepped up to join her in her movement.
Masooma continues her fight to ‘Ban FGM’ in India but unlike a few months ago, she is not fighting it alone but is being supported by several organisations, media and regular citizens across the country. She is now positive of getting relevant ministers in the central government to pay attention to her fight. “I believe this fight will sustain and I will win,” she says.
Crowdsourcing social change is not a new concept in India. Movements across the country have gathered resources, intelligence, strategy, execution and even raised funds from communities impacted and concerned. However, digital tools are now reinforcing and accelerating the impact.
The platform got a massive facelift because of technology. Digital tools and technological advancements have made it easier for imagination to take shape of reality. The scope of creation and change is limitless. It is breaking through time, distance, class, caste and geography. Making your voice heard has never been as easy as it is today and it only going to get better.
Nowhere is it as evident as on Change.org where everyday thousands of people convert their anger or frustration about a social condition into petitions and go on to build a community because of the digital tools available for them. This shift from what was a personal outrage into a crowdsourced movement has been impacting lives and giving people a platform to raise their voices. An example of this would be the case of Arian, a boy with Hunter syndrome, a genetic disorder that requires very expensive medication that is not widely available in India. Arian’s father started a petition on the crowdsourcing platform asking the Union Minister for Health to subsidise the drug which costs lakhs of rupees. This powerful story of a father fighting for his only son caught the interest of thousands of petitioners on Change.org. Through the petition and the profile they received through CNN-IBN, public started pooling in money for Arian’s treatment as a temporary solution. Shortly after, a pharmaceutical company that produces the medicine offered to provide his medicine for the rest of his life through one of their outreach programmes.
Any kind of positive social change cannot be complete if it does not have involvement of the people impacted. Crowdsourcing is a sustainable way to approach social change and it is exciting to see people coming together for a cause.
Preethi Herman is the Global Executive Director of Change.org Foundation and previously was the Executive Director of for Change.org Foundation India. She is a strong believer in that crowdsourcing is the only way to bring about social change.