Growing up in Dharavi, Ansuja's life was limited to attending school and tuition classes. She was in Class 9 when she was introduced to Dharavi Diary, a non-profit just three steps away from her neighborhood. It was a room full of books and laptops. Ansuja thought of it as an escape from school and decided to go.
On the first day, she and 15 other girls were asked to jot down evils present in their community. “I couldn’t help but empathize with my female friends who were not allowed to study just because it meant staying out late,” she recollects. While Ansuja’s parents wanted her to get an education, the families of her peers didn’t think the same way.
After an hour of brainstorming, Ansuja realised the need for women’s safety. And later that week, found out that they were going to be building a smartphone app for that purpose.
“Back then, I had no exposure to computers,” she recalls. But the 20-year-old was more than happy to participate. With 4 other girls, Ansuja began working on an app designed to send SOS signals to family and friends in case of an emergency. The girls named it ‘Women Fight Back’.
For the next 3 months, Ansuja learnt how to code, something which was unimaginable for her back then. After school, she’d spend all day coding only to return home at 11 PM.
“Our neighbors had started to notice I was showing up late.” When she told them, she was building a smartphone app, they laughed it off. Nobody but her parents thought she could do it.
Despite the nagging and limited access to internet, her hard work paid off. The app went live on Google Play Store. “I couldn’t believe it! Something that I created is being used by other women,” Anuja exclaims!
Today Ansuja is an innovator in her own right. She’s inspiring other girls to code, delivering Ted talks and is dubbed as one of the ‘Tech Girls of India’. Having found her calling, Ansuja wishes to see more women running app-based businesses. She says, “Coding is like solving a puzzle, it can solve real-life problems! And it’s the best channel for girls to put their ideas across!”
#Mahindra salutes innovators like Ansuja, who are paving the path for women in technology.