This past month I had the honor of meeting Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman police officer, who rose to the highest levels of the force. Through her bravery and determination she has, for forty years now, dedicated her life to bringing about change in India. Some of you may have heard of Kiran Bedi, or even seen the documentary on her life, “Yes Sir, Madam.” Just by becoming India’s first woman to be appointed to a top policing post, Kiran Bedi became a national hero. She reminded us that despite having the world’s first woman president, India does not value women and girls enough to ensure that their voice is represented.
But Kiran Bedi is so much more than a symbol. Kiran Bedi has personally put corrupt political and business leaders in prison. Corruption in India is not only widespread. Unfortunately bribes, even to police officers, is a way of life. On the other hand, the abuses by the powerful are overlooked. Kiran Bedi took action against this injustice. Over her tenure she served as Director General of both the Indian prison system and the narcotics control division, and in numerous other national offices. When she retired from the force four years ago, she founded two non-profits to help continue the work she was doing as a police officer.
I met Kiran Bedi at a luncheon hosted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In Mumbai there is great excitement that I have met a women who is an inspiration to all the artisans to be brave in spite of the most daunting obstacles. Over the years I have had the honor of meeting many extraordinary and interesting women. Quite a few are MarketPlace artisans! In the end, true change can only come from the grassroots. Through the daily struggles of the MarketPlace artisans, I’ve seen how challenging life can be when the very right of women to work outside the home is questioned. I have also seen the powerful impact their lives can have when they work together to better their community, their future, and the future of their families.
Leaders like Kiran Bedi inspire that grassroots change, and I thank her for giving that to the women of India. The life of Kiran Bedi is inspiring. Pass it on!