Country Lead, Change.org India
In October 2015, Masooma Ranalvi wrote a blog about her experience of undergoing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Her blog described her horrific experience of being circumcised as a little girl without her consent or preparation.
What she didn’t know then was that she had just initiated the crowdsourced movement against FGM in India. She started a petition on Change.org to gather more public support for her fight to ban FGM in India. An issue that hardly made news in India soon was being widely reported and several organisations stepped up to join her in her movement.
Masooma continues her fight to ban FGM in India but unlike a few months ago, she is not fighting it alone she is being supported by several organisations, media and more importantly regular citizens across the country. Masooma is now positive that she can get relevant Ministers in the central Government to pay attention to her fight, and she believes she will win. Her personal experience transformed into a national level fight against FGM and she had crowdsourced her movement.
Crowdsourcing social change is not a new concept in India. Movements across the country have gathered resources, intelligence, strategy, execution and even fundraised from communities impacted and concerned. However, digital tools are now reinforcing and accelerating the impact.
Crowdsourcing has seen a massive facelift because of technology. Digital tools and various technology have made imagination and innovation around create a positive change limitless. It is breaking through time, distance, class, caste and geography. Making your voice heard has never been as easy as it is today and it only going to get better.
Nowhere is it as evident as on Change.org where everyday thousands of people convert their anger or frustration about a social condition into petitions and go on to build a community because of the digital tools available for them, and converting what was a personal outrage into a crowdsourced movement, that very often goes on to make changes that impacts lives.
Like in the case of Arian, a boy with Hunter syndrome a genetic disorder that requires very expensive medication and not widely available in India. Arian’s father started a petition on Change.org asking the Union Minister for Health to subsidise the medication which cost lakhs of rupees. This powerful story of a father fighting for his only son caught the interest of thousands of people on Change.org. Through the petition and the profiles they received through CNNIBN, the public started crowdfunding for Arian’s treatment as a temporary solution. Shortly after, a pharmaceutical company that produces the medicine offered to provide Arian his medicine free of cost for the rest of his life through one of their outreach programmes.
Any kind of positive social change cannot be complete if it does not have involvement of the people impacted. Crowdsourcing is the only and sustainable way to approach social change and it is exciting to see how technology is making this an everyday reality.