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SOMA BASU
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CHATLINE Ekta Founder-Director Bimla Chandrasekar talks to SOMA BASU about her struggle to empower women and banish stereotypes

Bimla Chandrasekar's life experiences as a child raised in a conservative family in Orissa makes her fight for other women. "I was fond of my periamma (paternal aunt) but saw her being mistreated as a young widow by my family members. Anger came from this," she says.

Her grandmother was too rigid and imposed restrictions on her aunt. “Everybody wanted to control her,” recalls Bimla. Her aunt had her head tonsured, wore coarse saris, did not mingle with anybody and suffered in silence. "Yet whatever she did," says Bimla, "was eyed with suspicion."

Young Bimla did not understand what was happening but her mind always wondered why it was happening. This influenced her thinking and motivated her to find out whether it was only her family's problem or a common problem. And till date it motivates her to work directly with women. She established "Ekta’ , a centre for counselling and training women and youth in Madurai, because she believes the key to development is unity and the ability to work closely brings about growth.

Bimla describes herself as women's right defender whose work is "to help women, make as many of them count and change the lives of a few."

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