At what point in your life did you consider yourself a feminist? Was it an event or a process?
I always stood for women's rights but my own experiences shaped my own definitions.
Who most influenced your awareness of your feminism?
My own experiences and a belief that the world does not have to be so cruel and violent.
In what ways has your feminism informed your life choices?
I am pro-choice, use empowerment model with my clients, education for women and girls, no violence, voice for women and girls, equal pay.
In what ways do you share your feminism with others?
Writing, advocating for and providing services to domestic violence victims, speaking, raising my daughter with feminist beliefs.
Describe your vision of a feminist world.
A world where girls are afforded the SAME opportunities as boys and the color of your skin, gender and sexual orientation is not a barrier to success and achievement.
How I Define Feminism:
Equal opportunity for all, regardless of one's color, creed, religion, sex, disability. A world where everyone is equal and opportunity is a function of mental aptitude and nothing else.
Rupande Mehta is an advocate for and works with victims who have faced domestic violence and family abuse.
At age 5, Rupande was sexually abused by a family friend 55 years her senior. Although the abuse ended after a few instances, the experience paved the way for the next 16 years of Rupande's life. Born in India, Rupande has extremely traditional parents who believe fundamentally in the traditional idea of a woman's place in society. Controlling and abusive, Rupande's parents ought to silence her by taking away her rights, treating her as a second class citizen and by subjecting her to extreme physical, emotional and psychological abuse.
The cycle of violence continued in Rupande's life when she sought refuge out of the home but instead landed in some bad relationships with men who emotionally and psychologically abused her. The final straw came when Rupande thought she had met the love of her life instead he became her biggest abuser when he started beating, choking and raping her. He controlled her every move and isolated her away from all her friends. As a result of the sexual assaults, Rupande had to undergo two abortions before she was turned 21.
Despite all the violence, Rupande believed a better life, filled with love, peace and respect, awaited her. Finally in 2002, Rupande left India to come to the US to pursue her MBA. Afterwards she worked in the corporate sector, for 10 years, as a researcher and analyst for various consulting and pharmaceutical companies but never finding peace and satisfaction. The pull towards helping others was always strong and she started to volunteer with several organizations that help victims of domestic violence. After the birth of her daughter, Rupande finally took the decision to quit the corporate sector and started working with a local non profit as a Domestic Violence Liaison helping victims of domestic violence, family abuse and sexual assault. Today, Rupande helps victims with access to resources, information and educates them on the vicious cycle of abuse.
Rupande is also a writer, mainly on women’s and girl’s rights worldwide. Her writings have featured on various sites, including The Huffington Post and Stop Street Harassment. Rupande also works with many organizations worldwide, in various capacities, to raise awareness about women’s rights and to propel the issue forward. In the summer of 2016, Rupande interned with the Lt. Governor of the state of New Jersey working on policy research.
In addition to her work, Rupande is also pursuing her MPA at Rutgers University. For academic year 2016-17, Rupande has been selected as an Eagleton Fellow via the Eagleton Institute of Politics where she will get a chance to learn political skills and operations at a State agency of her choice. Rupande hopes to work with legislators and senators who work for women’s and girls’ empowerment to understand more about the political process and draft laws that can help propel the issue of gender equality.
Rupande’s main objective is to empower women so they can stand up and claim their place in the world. By using her own experiences and drawing attention to the role of women in society, Rupande hopes to be a catalyst for change and transform our society for the better.