South Asian Voices
South Asian Voices is an offering by SEWA-AIFW that raises questions against the oppressive practices of blind patriarchy and challenges outdated gender norms that perpetuate domestic violence in our community.
Through podcasts, we bring to you individuals and experts, working tirelessly to break the cycle of abuse and create a world where women stand on an equal footing. Not limited to domestic violence, also included will be individuals from the South Asian community who are making a difference in the lives of others, be it through social work, teaching, art, mental health initiatives.
As immigrant women, we strive to find a ‘home away from home,’ be it some street snack that we crave, a colorful dress that reminds us of our childhood, or songs that we heard from our mothers. In a foreign land, where we struggle everyday to balance the cultures, norms, and systems, life seems tough when you don’t have friends you can share your problems with. A creative woman in the Twin Cities thought about it and created a group for the immigrant women from the South Asian continent and beautifully named it Maanini which means ‘a woman who is well respected.’ Another wonderful individual came to support and brought innovative ideas to revive the group and got hundreds of women added! This podcast is especially about how these two women have created a space for South Asian immigrant women to come, support, and find solace with each other, creating a community of their own, where every woman is well respected and can be a Maanini!
Sheetal Kulkarni: Founder and Admin of Maanini: Beauty and Brains in the Twin Cities
An Architect and a Designer, Sheetal is self-employed and owns a franchise, and is also the owner and principal style/creative consultant for Saffron Poise – Events, design, and Lifestyle studio. Born and raised in Mumbai, she is an extremely creative person at heart. Sheetal is a founding board member and Trustee of the non-profit organization CHANCE Foundation of MN. Currently, she is the Outreach Lead and one of the Directors on the India Association of MN 2021 Board. Over the last seven years, she has been actively involved in leading community events and fundraisers for various non-profits within the United States, Canada, and India. She served as a community leader on the India Association of India COVID Emergency Relief Fund 2020 Steering committee. Hindu Mandir of MN, Geeta Ashram, The Need in Deed, SEWA, YUWA, Marathi Association of MN, Minnesota Malayalee Association are some of the other local organizations she has volunteered with. She closely works with children, various artists and organizations, and groups working for Women’s Empowerment and mental health. She is a performing artist and loves to dance, cook, paint, read, write, meet new people, and travel. She lives in Maple Grove with her husband Jaydeep, twin boys Siddharth and Gautam, and her golden doodle ‘Google.’
Lakshmi Rajaram: Revivor and Admin of Maanini: Beauty and Brains in the Twin Cities
Lakshmi is the Founder and Curator of Meraki Soul Art and specializes in offering Mandala Dot Art Classes. Mandala painting is an ancient art form that can be meditative, healing, and very relaxing. Benefits include stress reduction, mental clarity, development of spatial awareness, enhanced attention and concentration. More than anything, it is an extremely joyful practice for adults of all ages with no previous art experience required.
Her other hobbies and passions include Traveling, Community service, Volunteerism, Nature Photography, Music, and reading.