Paramita Banerjee

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2016


This profile was prepared when Paramita Banerjee was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2016.
The New Idea
Paramita Banerjee is putting children of sex workers in charge of their own lives to transform their communities to a safe space for them to grow up and live in.

Paramita has enabled the creation of eight independently run youth groups with 300 members (all of who are either children of sex workers or have one or more pimps in the family) across two major red light areas and adjacent slums that are solving the most critical issues faced by them. Together they have conceptualized and continue to lead a 24x7 watchdog system in their communities to prevent entry of underage girls into prostitution, collaborate with the police to stop abuse, resulting in an end of forced intergenerational prostitution and pimping in their areas. This process of action enables them to shift their mindsets from being victims to leaders with self-belief, enabled to lead change in their lives and communities and also make red light areas safe spaces for them to live in. The experiences in working with these youth groups have helped Paramita formulate a blueprint that takes children of sex workers in red light areas through an internal journey to find their inner strength to not accept their current marginalization and believe that they can change their own lives and the situation of their communities.

Drawing from this success, Paramita is now influencing other CSO’s and funders use her proven blueprint and put children and youth in charge of leading change. Simultaneously the self-organized and governed youth groups spread the work by building alliances with institutions in the community (like the police and also spurring youth groups in new geographies. So far, three units have used the blueprint to expand and build youth groups in red light areas and beyond. This work has earned DIKSHA, the umbrella organization with which all these youth groups work, become a member of the Child Protection Committee of Ward 83 under the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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