Insia Dariwala is the co-founder of Sahiyo, an organization that empowers Dawoodi Bohra and other Asian communities to end female genital cutting (FGC) and create positive social change. Insia speaks against the lack of knowledge about FGM/C prevalence in the Dawoodi Bohras communities, and how most work against FGM/C fails to support Asian communities and advocates. Insia further addresses FGM/C as a film-maker activist and founder of The Hands of Hope Foundation, an organization working against sexual abuse on children using visual art and education to create awareness in schools, communities & slums in India. Insia’s organizations are part of the Women Thrive Alliance, and she has worked pro-actively to ensure that the alliance’s Achieve SDG5 Initiative includes advocates from minority communities like the Bohras.
Insia is an incredible advocate because she goes where the silence is. In the past few years, she has used her art to ensure that silent issues such as child abuse and FGM/C are brought into the light, discussed, and acted upon. Her first movie “the Candy Man” addressed child abuse, and her second film, “The Cock Tale” focused on rape and led to the creation of The Hands of Hope Foundation. Insia has not just addressed issues that her country faces, she has gone deep into her own Bohra community and become vocal about Khatna (female genital cutting), overcoming taboos and threats to raise awareness about the issue and help drive a community movement to bring an end to the practice. Be it with diaspora communities in the US or back in India, Insia has been one of the faces and the voices of a small group of brave survivors denouncing the practice and calling for its eradication. She has inspired others to come into the light to share their stories, putting faces on a practice that is still such a strong taboo in their community. Through her film-making, she has given women survivors of Khatna a platform through which to express themselves. Her work with the media and her focus on story-telling has also inspired survivors to write about their own experiences in a way that not many had done before in the Bohra community.
In just a few months, Sahiyo has put its mark on the movement to end FGM/C, by publishing impactful blogs about survivors’ personal experiences of FGM/C; organizing a movement of advocates in the diaspora communities of the USA to become champions of change; and using art to mainstream messages to broader audiences. Insia has played a central role in all of this work, driven by her unwavering commitment to protecting women and girls and her capacity to change people’s minds through storytelling and visual art.