Nyaaya – Empowering Indian Citizens to Access Justice 

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Team Nyaaya

According to the 2021 data released by the National Family Health Survey of India, for the first time in India’s recorded history, the population of women has surpassed men. However, women empowerment remains a distant goal. Much needs to be done to understand and address the problems faced by millions of women in our country, especially those in rural areas. The National Commission for women recorded a 46 per cent rise in complaints relating to violence against women in the first eight months of 2021. Education, health, domestic violence, gender divide, ignorance of their rights and entitlements, unequal pay, sexual abuse, early marriages, unequal property rights, abandonment. The list is endless and has a direct impact on every aspect of their lives.   

One of the biggest hurdles in creating more awareness is the lack of access to simple, reliable and actionable information about our legal rights. It is this void that we, at Nyaaya, have stepped in to fill with an innovative approach.

What is Nyaaya? 

We are a free, open-access, digital resource that provides simple, actionable, reliable and accessible legal information to Indian citizens, helping them solve day-to-day legal problems. Our vision is to make Indian citizens aware of their rights to protect themselves, assert their rights and seek justice.

We work on initiatives with grassroots level organisations to make justice attainable to those needing it the most. Some of the recent campaigns on empowerment of women and the youth that we collaboratively built this year are #MyKanoon, #MeriBhiAwazSuno, #MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar and #NyaayaNaari.

We provide legal information that is easily understandable and decipherable to the citizens and in a manner that is relevant to their specific needs and reality. We work towards creating a society where the rule of law is a real lived experience for everyone, and a lack of legal awareness does not lead to exclusion from access to justice. 

We work on initiatives with grassroots level organisations to make justice attainable to those needing it the most. Some of the recent campaigns on empowerment of women and the youth that we collaboratively built this year are #MyKanoon, #MeriBhiAwazSuno, #MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar and #NyaayaNaari.

These are just four of many initiatives created to empower women across cities, towns and villages of India, making them aware of their rights and explaining government schemes to them.

In the last year, our website has recorded over 4 lakh page views, 2.5 lakh visits, 2 lakh users, and an active online community of 90 thousand members. This emphasises how an initiative such as this is urgently needed in our country. We have collaborated with youth-centric platforms and grassroots organisations to create legal champions across all sections of Indian society.

#MeriBhiAwaazSuno – Empowering Underprivileged Communities

#Meri Bhi Awaaz Suno is an initiative that touched the lives of many rural communities, encouraging them to speak up about all the problems they faced and creating avenues for problem-solving. Along with Gram Vaani, a social tech company that uses simple technologies and social context to design tools to impact communities, we provide simple, actionable and reliable legal content on rights and entitlements, health laws and employment laws. Through this campaign, we launched a series of eight audio episodes of three minutes each on Mobile Vaani (Gram Vaani’s federated network of community media platforms). These episodes were a huge success. They had 13,929 unique users, 1,09,756 minutes cumulative listening duration and received 991 comments and additional 473 questions.

This initiative helped people in villages with no access to smartphones and the internet understand that everyone is a rights bearer with the ability to demand enforcement of their rights. They can have their voice heard and ask questions without fear of reprisal. To be able to express their thoughts and articulate their grievances and challenges was immensely empowering for the community members, and in itself was a step towards bringing about effective change in society. The campaign was not only limited to generating awareness but also extended on ground hand-holding support. This fostered a unique model of encouraging agents of change from within the community. From facilitating access to pension dues to guidance on registering under the e-Shram scheme, stories from #MeriBhiAwazSuno speak volumes about the effectiveness of these initiatives and campaigns. 

We joined hands with Gram Vaani yet again in the #MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar campaign to focus on issues plaguing women at the grassroots, and to create awareness particularly about the laws that protect women from violence and abuse.

The initiative has impacted many women. One of them is Usha Kumari. 

Usha Kumari had not received her dues under the disability pension for over four months. Along with Mobile Vaani, we helped her identify the bottlenecks and connected her with the local Vikas Mitra who then assisted her in completing the necessary paperwork and expediting the disbursal of her pensions.

#MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar – Addressing Violence and Abuse Against Women

We joined hands with Gram Vaani yet again in the #MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar campaign to focus on issues plaguing women at the grassroots, and to create awareness particularly about the laws that protect women from violence and abuse.

Launched during the #16DaysofActivism 2021, this is an ongoing awareness campaign on gender-based violence reaching those with minimal access to the internet or information in regional languages.

Meri Zindagi Mera Adhikar addresses all issues, rights and policies for action against offenders. It comprises audio episodes hosted by local legal champions who have been empowered with legal knowledge by Nyaaya. 

#MyKanoon – Empowering the Youth in the Online Space 

#MyKanoon campaign is created for generating awareness about issues such as online violence, bullying and harassment of women while also addressing children’s safety in online spaces, among many others. We run it in partnership with Instagram, where India’s youth are spending time. It is designed with the insight that lack of awareness and information hinders young women when they need legal assistance. Awareness about cyber safety and the rights of internet users can help create a safer online space for everyone. 

“We are committed to equipping the youth with adequate legal knowledge so that they can make informed legal action and interact with justice systems in India with confidence. We believe that informed youngsters can become legal champions to empower others who do not have access to legal information,” says Anisha Gopi, the Team Lead at Nyaaya.

In this campaign, young content creators prepared over fifty pieces of short and long-form content on topics such as online violence, bullying and harassment, child sexual abuse and children in conflict with the law. Aimed at simplifying legal information around the concept of being safe online, the campaign is engaging and filled with actionable insights. It informs young women about the legal rights and protections available to them.

Since the launch of the campaign in November 2021, the content has recorded a cumulative reach of 6.6 lakh accounts and over 3 lakh views on Instagram.

A few comments from the engaged audience over the campaign highlight how Indian youth and women influencers are finding such efforts useful:

“You guys are doing God’s work.”

“Keep raising awareness.”

A recent article by a popular digital media portal, Miss Malini, highlights: “With the help of this campaign, young users will be informed about Instagram’s safety controls as well as help them to make informed legal steps and interact with the justice system accordingly.”

We plan to cover a wide array of topics that will have a tremendous impact on all aspects of life. The focus will be to create awareness that is essential to empower women and ensure that exploitation and abuses are eradicated. These topics range from education, finance, domestic violence and matrimonial rights, reproductive and sexual rights to property and employment rights. 

#Nyaaya Naari – Empowering Women in Rural Sectors

Aggregating the experiences from campaigns like #MeriBhiAwazSuno and #MeriZindagiMeraAdhikar, we launched a campaign to empower women, particularly in rural areas, by making available actionable information on legal rights and explanations on how to enforce them. 

Information on women’s rights is available but often scattered, not accessible, nor easily understood. We devised a strategy to overcome those hurdles and disseminate this information and awareness through four easy and user-friendly steps. The legal content has been categorised into:

  • Explainers breaking down complicated legal rights documents and governmental schemes into short, accessible snippets
  • Interactive tools providing information on both Central and State Government schemes, all in one place
  • Guides providing step-by-step guidance on how they can access their rights, including eligibility and preconditions, and comprehend how the justice delivery mechanisms work 
  • Audio and video content along with infographics and posters to make it more accessible and easily understandable

We plan to cover a wide array of topics that will have a tremendous impact on all aspects of life. The focus will be to create awareness that is essential to empower women and ensure that exploitation and abuses are eradicated. These topics range from education, finance, domestic violence and matrimonial rights, reproductive and sexual rights to property and employment rights. 

To ensure that this vital information reaches a multitude of women, we will begin by making them available in Hindi, Kannada, and English and then expand to other regional languages. The content will be shared widely with the beneficiaries and made available to our audience through regional print and social media.

All these will considerably contribute to ensuring that women, particularly in rural areas, are brought into the mainstream, made active, empowered and equal citizens of India by being aware of their rights and opportunities.

Nyaaya was incubated at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy and is housed at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, India’s leading law and policy think-tank. Vidhi is a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013 (formerly Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956). Nyaaya is one of the first organisations in India to focus on making the law accessible for non-lawyers, not only in English but also in Hindi and Kannada. The team consists of highly qualified lawyers from reputed institutions with a diverse work background in litigation, grassroots legal awareness work, training, content creation and legal research.