By Bailey Beckett
Indrani Goradia deals with pretty heavy subjects—domestic and gender violence, among them—but they haven’t diminished her light. If anything, they’ve made her more determined to help women stop the abuse and empower them to change their lives.
An author, speaker, philanthropist and activist, Goradia set up Indrani’s Light Foundation to provide women the support they need to reverse the abuse cycles that can go back generations. Based in New York and Houston, she travels the world speaking and advocating for victims and survivors, which is a personal cause: she is one herself. Now on the world stage—she has been a speaker at the United Nations Women’s Health and Development Forum and collaborates with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation —Goradia has brought her message of hope, survival and empowerment to millions. She spoke with New York Lifestyles about her journey and continuing crusade.
Your organization has made such a difference in the lives of many women. What keeps you focused?
The focus is quite easy. We know where we can affect the biggest change and we direct our efforts there. When we give workshops to the advocates of sexual and domestic violence shelters, we know that they will have the opportunity to teach new behaviors to their families and show up differently at home and work. We know we can teach them to practice self-care and make themselves a priority.
You deal with heavy subjects every day. How do you stay positive and motivated?
Whenever I have an opportunity to talk or write about domestic violence and child abuse, I imagine that one person in the audience will pay close attention and will go home and make the changes necessary to end it. I imagine that they will no longer make excuses that screaming and abuse are acceptable behaviors for parenting or partnering of their significant others. I imagine that they will decide to learn new tools so that they too will say, they ended generational violence. I imagine that they begin to see that their loved ones deserve the best of them—nothing less.
What has the reaction been from the philanthropic community?
I belong to an amazing group of women who make significant investments in areas that affect girls and women. Did you know that an incredibly small percentage of philanthropic dollars support women battling domestic violence and child abuse and yet we are 50 percent of the population? The community has been extremely supportive of my work and they know that we all must do what we can.
Tell us how you got President Obama interested in your cause?
I have a strong belief in the magic of the universe. If we do the work we are supposed to do and are committed, we will make our world a better place. I never dared dream that President Obama and Indrani Goradia would ever be in the same sentence let alone be together in a photo! Then an invitation arrived and I was ready and able to talk about the work and he listened and responded in an incredibly positive way.
What has it been like to work with Bill and Melinda Gates?
I was part of a collective that Melinda Gates co-founded that supported girls and women. She is incredibly down to earth and was happy that a group of courageous women had come together to use their resources to affect change.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by abused women who have no one to turn to and who continue to do their best for their families. They cry and they work. They cry and hope for better lives for their families. They show up despite all odds and they do their best. I am in awe of these women. When I spoke at the UN, I imagined that a whole group of these brave women were at the table with me. We need to give these women a chance to tell the world what they are going through. We need their voices in the rooms where policies are made. One of my favorite quotes: “What you do for us but without us is against us.”
What do you do outside of your work?
I love my work and I get to travel to many places to speak about it so I would say that travel is one of the activities that I love to do. I also read a lot. All kinds of genres from how-to books like The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker and psychological thrillers to true memoirs and memoir-type books like Good Talk by Mira Jacob. I love to quilt, and my husband says I am addicted to buying art supplies. One of these days I will take an art class.
What is the message you hope everyone takes away from your work.
I hope everyone believes that we can change the narrative about domestic violence and knows that we can learn how to end violence at home. I ended generational violence in my lifetime and did it because my family deserved a chance to live in peace and know that they were safe at home.
For more information on Indrani Goradia and the Indrani’s Light Foundation, visit indranislight.org.