As a journalist, I have focused on interrelated issues of development: environment, poverty, water, health, education, livelihoods, climate change, nuclear power, social innovation and handicrafts.
My experience in the field over 28 years has me convinced that ensuring equality and rights for girls and women lies at the heart of the unfinished business of development.
If the world is not fair to girls and women and half the world remains deprived, we will never reach our goals of sustainable development.
I have consciously attempted in the last few years to tell stories of women and children, happy and sad ones, to underline their needs and concerns.
I have extensively researched, edited, written, advocated, commissioned articles and trained journalists on issues of gender and child rights.
For Oxfam GB, I worked for six years on narratives of women in six countries across South Asia who recounted the daily violence in their lives. I highlighted their stories both in print and on a website dedicated to this campaign called ‘We Can End All Violence Against Women in South Asia’.
In the arena of child rights, I have looked at issues of their protection and care, violence against children and children in conflict with the law.
Oomna emerged out of a deep need to create a character, fast-paced and alive, who young girls can relate to and aspire to become.
She is the voice who convinces us it is important to let Oomna’s of the world grow into their own.
And for each girl in India and elsewhere to find the Oomna in her!!!
The Oomna doll
Illustrations were conceived to be an integral part of breathing life into Oomna.
My mother who made dolls all her life provided a prototype for Oomna with a thumb sized girl child. I grew up with these dolls and in my mind they stood for girls with spirit and self-assuredness.
A poetry book with an Oomna doll in each was the first attempt to flesh out a young girl’s world. The Oomna you see has climbed out from here.
Chanjal S Kumar