What did I do in August 2020?

Elsa’s monthly musings
6 min readAug 30, 2020


Am trying something new…capturing some of the personal highlights in August to remind me that even in lockdown mode I can be productive, happy, successful and creative.

Gender Alliance Summit

About three years ago, I was invited to attend a BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Responsible Leader retreat in the Brazilian rainforest. The retreat was meant to discuss the strategy of the Foundation and brainstorm sessions to develop the network. I was inspired by the member profiles to suggest a collaboration of feminists in the network across the globe. Since then I have been connected to various other members who felt the same way and in December 2019 at the World Responsible Leaders Forum in Merida, Mexico the idea came into fruition.

About thirty of us came together and created the Gender Alliance to accelerate our work on Gender Equality. We identified a few key areas of immediate importance — more representation on the Foundation’s Board, a Feminist Manifesto to guide us and our organisations and visibility of our members’ work at global fora.

The summit is the first working group meeting of a larger group to bring people together across the various interlinked German networks — BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt’s Responsible Leaders Network, the Global Diplomacy Lab, GLAC and the Bosch Alumni Network and identify and co-create areas of focus, interest and collaboration for the next one year.

We had 200 members from 50 countries sign up and attend over the three days. It was energetic, passionate and totally interactive. I am grateful to all my peers who worked really hard to put together sessions that were thoughtful, meaningful and valuable.

To know more about the summit and the alliance, do check here.

Rotary Peace Fellowship Alumni Association (RPFAA)

Last year I was invited by Rotary International to be part of the inaugural Board of the alumni association. I joined four other Rotary Peace Fellows — Erin Thomas, Yung Nietschke, Wesley Hedden, Magdalina Zurita to form the Board which was guided by Bill Rintz from RI. We were tasked with setting up the organisation and the relevant processes.

The most part of the past year has been spent in establishing the legal and governance structures to support the administrative operations of the RPFAA, including registering as a Non Profit organisation. Defining the by laws, identifying country and state to register the organisation and then processing the paper work to register the non profit, 501c3 filings and its bank account was a mammoth task which has now been accomplished. This gives the incoming Board, a vehicle to carry out the functioning of the organisation including fundraising which would not have been possible without a legal entity.

We also developed several policies including:

  • Harassment policy
  • Process for investigation of sexual harassment complaints
  • Election process
  • The code of conduct for Board members
  • Board Member declaration policy
  • Process for events held under the RPFAA Banner

This has been an enriching experience for me. I look forward to stepping down from the Board and immersing myself in regional activities of which I have already started to play a key role.

Domestic Violence campaign

Recognising that Domestic Violence was spiking yet there was no easy remedial measures available for women in distress, we filed a PIL in the Supreme Court of India in early June and were represented by Advocate Nappinai NS. The hearing came up in July and the Supreme Court asked us to approach the government and work with them to issue the guidelines.

In addition to sending a letter to the various Ministries — Home Affairs, Women and Child Development, the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Child Protection, we started a change.org campaign to mobilise support to declare domestic violence services as essential services. Do support us by signing and circulating the petition.

Other fun work stuff…

Work does not have to be boring and the online medium offers several ways to continue one’s work, be innovative and add value to people’s lives.

  • Safecity Active Saturdays every Saturday at 9 am IST to boost immunity and promote wellness and self care. Alternating between yoga and fitness routines, we want to inspire people to take care of their mind and body as the lockdown and physical distancing continues in various forms.
  • Sunday Reflections every Sunday at 5 pm IST where I invite a guest from one of my networks to share their experiences during the lockdown and understand their motivations in leading their lives.
  • Inclusive Cities every Wednesday at 6 pm IST to discuss the meaning and nuances of a safe and inclusive city. We have interviewed politicians, urban experts, development sector professionals, academics and more.
  • TEDxVersovaSalons on Saturdays at 5 pm IST where we have two speakers share their inspiring ideas and journeys. The theme for this month was Innovation and we had talks ranging from Boredom as a catalyst for innovation, the Perils of a Plan B, Getting comfortable with uncertainty, Igniting connections and more.
  • Articles to capture my thoughts and ideas. This month I wrote for Tarshi on Tech and Sexuality, Yourstory on Lessons from the Pandemic, Shethepeople on Paid Period Leave, Times of India on Women’s Leadership and Shethepeople on Domestic Violence.
  • I spoke at a bunch of different places including the British Deputy High Commission’s panel on Gender impact during COVID19, Rotary District of Chennai, Omdena’s demo day, BAN online series and Speakeasy.
  • Network activities — as a regional coordinator/driver for my various alumni networks I have been engaged in hosting local events, designing new formats of engagement, strategy sessions and team building. It’s been fun and enriching.
Supreet clicked this picture

My self care

Ofcourse one cannot only work, work, work. Self care is important. Some of the things I did

  • Chatting with my nieces and being part of their milestones. Faith has now learned to cartwheel! And I taught her to make pie charts, bar and line graphs. She is only six!!
  • Exercise at least four times a week with Dimple and Brian Sopher from Fit4Life. We do a one hour set based on a variety of fitness routines online — tabata, kickboxing, yoga stretches, strength training and more. In the last five months, I have been diligent about my exercise routine and have lost ten kilos. My body is stronger and much more flexible than before.
  • After ages I baked a huge batch of brownies and distributed them before I was tempted to eat them. They were amazing and you can try the recipe here.
  • I am reading Sonali Gupta’s newly released book Anxiety which is quite interesting.
  • Binge watched What if, Northern Rescue, Hot Girls Wanted, Seeing Allred, The China Hustle and more.

Thanks for reading till the end. If you think this was interesting, fun or boring, let me know. Also don’t forget to clap, comment and subscribe to this newsletter. For me, it is all part of an experiment and I enjoy doing it.



Elsa’s monthly musings

Contradiction of sorts — dreamer and doer, introvert yet extrovert, grounded whilst always flying. Feminist. Know more www.elsamariedsilva.com; www.safecity.in