Ruchira Gupta, founder president of Apne Aap Women Worldwide has worked for 25 years for women’s and girls’ rights, especially towards ending sex trafficking. She founded Apne Aap in 2002 - a grassroots organization working on the issue of human trafficking and women rights. Today Apne Aap impacts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of women and children. Her most significant contribution to civil society, governments and multi-lateral bodies like the United Nations has been to highlight the link between trafficking and prostitution and to lobby with policy makers on shifting the blame from the victim to the perpetrator.
About the organisation
Apne Aap started out as an informal group of women and girls who gave Ruchira information, advice, protection and physical and emotional support. It now mobilizes and mentors community based groups of trafficked and vulnerable girls and women to empower each other. The centres provide safe space and opportunities for legal, education and livelihood training to the groups of girls and women to develop the skills and abilities to resist traffickers. This strategy has
a) empowered mothers to rescue their daughters and put them into schools breaking the cycle of caste-based intergenerational prostitution; and
b) empowered women to rescue each other by demanding access to the right to livelihoods other than prostitution, education and safe housing in their small group structures.
Association with Smile Foundation
Apne Aap in association with Smile Foundation, runs Smile Twin –e – Learning Programme. The programme is designed to increase the employability prospects of underprivileged adolescents by equipping them in marketable skills like English and Computer. This helps them get employment in service sectors and particularly retail outlets, BPO’s etc. Besides necessary orientation, the job oriented Smile Twin e-Learning Programme trains these young boys and girls in soft skills, basic management including retail and sales, personality development, career opportunities & counseling, team work and leadership qualities. These students are also sensitised about the gender issues, reproductive and sexual health issues and diseases like HIV/AIDS.
Other activities at Apne Aap
Creative expression sessions, professional skills, anti-trafficking campaign, legal training and night crèche. Besides these activities, Apne Aap also runs a boarding school (Kasturba Gandhi Boarding School) in Bihar.