Gender equality is not only a human right but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, just, and sustainable world as envisioned by the UN’s 2030 Agenda. The Gender Alliance is an initiative that pushes for a feminist agenda to foster gender equity in line with Sustainable Development Goal #5. ElsaMarie D’Silva is one of its members.
Who are you?
ElsaMarie D’Silva: My name is ElsaMarie D’Silva. I live and work in Mumbai, India, but more often than not I am traveling somewhere on work.
The Gender Alliance is a network-driven initiative to bring feminists together to accelerate gender equality. Its members come from the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network, the Global Diplomacy Lab, and the Robert Bosch Foundation. Together, they strive to accelerate the achievement of the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals on gender equity and equality within their respective organizations, communities, and spheres of influence. This series is an effort to amplify amazing women who are pushing boundaries and breaking glass ceilings every day, personally and professionally.
Why did you join the Gender Alliance, and what is most important for you?
ElsaMarie D'Silva: For a long time I had wanted to organize people within the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network on the topic of gender. The idea for the Gender Alliance had formed at a BMW Foundation gathering in Brazil in June 2018 when several of us felt there was a need to come together. Therefore, prior to meeting at the 6th World Responsible Leaders Forum in Mexico, I took advantage of having so many people in one place and pitched for a session to discuss the Gender Alliance. We are at a moment in time when gender is being discussed at various forums. It seems like we are in the midst of a revolution. By coming together, joining forces, sharing ideas, and collaborating, we can accelerate progress on various fronts – higher visible representation in business and political leadership, equal pay, accounting for domestic care, eradication of all forms of gender based violence, and more.
What work do you do to promote gender equality?
ElsaMarie D'Silva: I am the founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation (Safecity), which works at the intersection of gender, tech, urban design, and data. Our flagship program is Safecity, a crowd map for sexual violence in public spaces. I co-founded this as an immediate response to a horrific gang rape of a young woman on a bus in Delhi in December 2012. Since then we have been collating data from India and around the world. These stories form a database from which we can understand location-based patterns and trends of contributing factors to sexual violence. The open sourced data helps individuals and communities to improve their situational awareness and find local solutions and demand accountability from stakeholders like police, municipal authorities, and transport officials. We have the largest collection of crowdsourced stories globally and share the data regularly with the local police in India.
What is your desired outcome of the BMW Foundation Gender Alliance?
ElsaMarie D'Silva: I would love to see a close-knit community that shares knowledge and resources, collaborates and partners to accelerate progress on gender equity and equality, and can influence policy to accelerate change. We have the expertise within the group – from government, business, academia, and civil society. We can do it together.
What does an equal world look like?
ElsaMarie D'Silva: An equal world is when everyone can live their life freely and has all the freedom to access opportunities and make choices.
Any advice to your 15-year-old self?
ElsaMarie D'Silva: Enjoy the journey. Don’t stress too much. You will be fine.