Dr. Mala Bhandari, Founder-Director
Mala is Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Delhi. Her area of research has been Women, Work and their Quality of Life. She has had three years Post-Doctoral research experience in Gender and Development from University of Pune, Maharashtra.
Though belonging to a conventional extended family in Punjab, Mala’s parents spent their life in Delhi. They worked hard to give the best to their children whom they aspired to move up in career and life. With a liberal upbringing, Mala had the freedom to choose her career. Being a restless child, she was an odd one out in the family since she raised strong objections to social practices particularly those related to women and young girls. She disapproved the social customs, rituals, traditions and the male powerhouse that she felt to exist around. Her feelings were strengthened while in school when she led a rally against Dowry practiced at the time of marriage. When others at home came to know, they laughed and called her Jhola Jhap Social Worker.
Studying the subject of Sociology in college was a turning point in her life. The suppressed feelings in her got an expression and she pursued the subject as a full-time career option. She traveled across the various parts of India and learned the existing social realities in each of the regions. She conducted several research studies in association with academic and social research institutes and organizations with the cross-cutting theme of gender. She wrote many research papers and published and presented them at every possible conference and seminar. She traveled to other countries for training and paper presentations on issues of child rights & basic education, child protection, family research and women empowerment.
In the year 2004, Mala decided to work through not-for-profit sector with a personal commitment for community work, particularly for women and children. She has had a strong urge to change the existing realities of life for women and children. She, together with other development professionals, founded a Not- for- profit organization, Social and Development Research and Action Group (SADRAG) with an overall vision of Equality of life for all. She envisioned a life of dignity and self-respect for women and children through self-reliance attained with capacity building through basic education, health, and skill development that could enable them to improve their overall conditions of life.
True to self, since 2004, Mala has been working for the community and has never looked back. During initial years, she faced a lot of criticism and ridicule from people around. But faith in self-enabled her to work in a mission mode and today, SADRAG is bringing positive change in the lives of thousands of people through direct interventions in Districts Gautum Budh Nagar, Hapur and Ghaziabad in the state of U.P. In line with the vision and mission of the organization, the major areas of intervention have been Child rights & Basic education, Child Protection, Skill development & Livelihood, Rural development, Health, Violence against women and Safe City.
Mala is a member of several working committees at district level which is formed to improve Education of children, bonded labour, child labour and working life of women in district Gautum Budh Nagar. Through such Forums, she strongly advocates for community wellbeing through an active Convergent approach. She is a member of Internal Complaint Committees, made under The Sexual Harassment for Women at Workplace Act, 2013, in several institutions. She has directly handled many such cases where the complainants need to be heard and acted upon.
She led the organization for an active participation in the e-NGO Challenge South Asia 2014 under the Category, Safety of Women and Young girls. She had conceptualized Safe Noida Mobile App as an information tool for women and young girls of district Gautum Budh Nagar, U.P. The mobile App, available both in Hindi and English, was adjudged one of the Finalists for the Award. It received the Certificate of Recognition.
She participated in Dasra Girl Power Awards contest and was adjudged one of the finalists for an Award under the category, Safety, and Mobility. She advocated for a Convergent approach to address the issues of violence and abuse for women, an approach whereby, the institutions, procedures, and processes together can ensure timely and prompt redressal for the individual critical cases of abuse.
SADRAG emphasizes on- groundwork based on personal values like honesty, commitment, and passion. The same is translated into action on the ground through the teams entrusted with the responsibility of implementation.