Dwishojoyee was elected an Ashoka Young Changemaker from India in May 2022. This story was written through a consultative process during their selection to our global community.
Dwishojoyee’s journey into changemaking began with a simple yet powerful realization, one that in her own words can be summed up as “I care because I am alive”. Increasingly conscious of the growing polarity between the reel and the real and the mirage of social action on social media, she was keen on making real, positive change in real lives.
This led to the birth of her organization, The Soft Move. The Soft Move revolves around impact making, essentially transforming young people into ‘impact-makers’. They do so through a range of different tasks with each one taking on a unique social cause. Through awareness drives and period product exhibitions, Dwishojoyee and her team work to tackle the stigma around menstruation. She recalled one such story of conversing with her local Kirana owner, urging him not to conceal menstrual products in a black polythene. After the initial discomfort around the subject and the flat-out refusal of the owner, they settled on a trial period. This served as a constructive exercise as he realized that the customers don’t really mind and he can forgo the practice.
A pivotal project of The Soft Move is the Paperbag Project. Born after the government-regulated plastic ban across India in 2019, The Paperbag Project provides handmade paper bags to small-scale vendors who couldn’t afford alternatives. “After recycling newspapers, making paper bags, we approach vegetable vendors and small retailers to do away with the plastic and use this recycled, degradable and eco-friendly alternative”, she said. As of August 2022, they have replaced 10,000 plastic bags. Via Soft Move, they also reach out to school students and other organizations to conduct workshops around climate change and plastic pollution. They then engage the students in a plastic bag making activity, which is further distributed to small- vendors and vegetable sellers.
An instrumental figure in the birth and functioning of her organization is Pooja Kaul, the Founder of Organico. Dwishojoyee credited her with helping to materialise the various ideas and projects her organization could take on. The heartfelt encouragement, insightful comments, and constructive criticism offered by allies like Pooja play a pivotal role in the success of young changemakers.
Dwishojoyee understands the importance of inclusivity and diversity. This shows in her team which houses members from across the country and the rigorous groundwork they do. They’ve also dedicated their social media handle to researching the history of tribes, languages, textiles, etc and acknowledging the sheer diversity in them.
Reflecting on her journey as a changemaker, she recognizes that starting an initiative is the easy part, but sustaining the momentum for days on end takes continuous, rigorous teamwork. In the next three years, she hopes to impact many more stores across India and partner with schools in all cities to grow a diverse volunteer group.
This story was written by Prachi Vats.