Vikalp was registered in 2004 by a group of youth with a steadfast commitment to creating a society free from gender based violence and discrimination. We are committed to a society based on equity, peace and justice. “Vikalp” means an “alternative”, and Vikalp Sansthan aims to find and enable alternatives to existing social structures that are marked by discrimination, violence and unequal opportunities for women and girls. We believe in accomplishing this by using the democratic system already in place instead of investing in new parallel systems.
Vikalp strongly believe in working with youth and creating a new generation of agents of change. Vikalp has therefore dedicated itself to articulate the needs and aspirations of youth with integrity, accountability and perseverance.
Since 2004, the original group of young social workers has expanded to include over 400 regular volunteers and 200,000 “Changemakers” who have been influenced by Vikalp’s work. Vikalp operates out of its main office in Udaipur and works through volunteers in nine districts and 231 villages in south and west Rajasthan.
Vikalp began as a happy coincidence between friends dedicated to gender equality: in 2003 Usha, Yogesh and others met while working for another non-profit in Rajasthan. The diverse group of friends was deeply committed to gender equality and their knowledge came from education but also years of experience. Usha herself, found the determination to stop her own child marriage after a difficult childhood confronted with gender-based violence.
One day, at a street play to raise funds for drought survivors in Barmer they spoke with the girls who were performing and heard their message loud and clear: “it’s great that you’re here but we need your constant presence.” They couldn’t ignore this message and what followed were many days of discussion about the struggles of girls and youth – during this time the name Vikalp, meaning alternative, was born.
The group of social workers started to work with girls in Barmer in their spare time supporting girls to raise voice against gender discrimination. They met every evening to discuss how they could engage different stakeholders in the community and raise awareness against harmful practices like female infanticide, child marriage and domestic violence. They were working directly with communities and organizing trainings for other organisations to fundraise.
Slowly, people started to notice their work and eventually in 2004 they decided it was time to formally register and fund the organisation. Receiving official grants from Room to Read and Oxfam soon after meant they could expand their work to 12 districts across Rajasthan. The team grew substantially and it wasn’t long before Vikalp had a network of hundreds of volunteers and were supporting many girls and women.
Over the years the network, locations and staff have evolved to meet the needs of community but Vikalp has always stayed true to its roots and dedication to empowering women and girls. Today, Vikalp has several offices across the region and works with youth to support and empower thousands of women and girls against discrimination and violence.