Live with intention, challenge the status quo and create necessary changes. In 2005, Shannon Keith saw a desperate need for change, and instead of holding empathetic despair, she boldly stepped up to do her part to fight for gender parity and women’s rights. While one cannot achieve gender parity alone, Shannon knew that with a passion for justice, she could make an impact.
When Shannon embarked on her journey to India, she had no idea that the conversations she would soon have would change the trajectory of her life. The group Shannon traveled with had partnered with an organization which provided wells for towns in need. In this case, the town had an active brothel community. Upon meeting and talking with many women involved in sex work, she realized that most were forced to be there and were trapped into the system due to systematic injustice and violence against women. Many came from poor families, had limited or no access to education, or had been trapped and forced to work as sex workers. This sparked in Shannon a need to challenge the status quo and create real change.
Shannon devised a business idea that had the potential to empower, equip and create autonomy for the women forced into sex work. She worked with local experts to create a sustainable business model and shortly, Sudara was launched. Sudara creates “safe, steady, living-wage employment that would be a pathway to freedom and offers choices for women and their families”. Not only does Sudara enable women to earn their own living in a safe and empowering manner, but it also partners with a non-profit, The Sudara Freedom Fund, which gives women access to safe housing, education, and support to create a better future for all. Women have access to classes so that they might pursue their passion and create their own paths, safe housing for those just exiting sex work, and the support of knowing they are not alone.
Moving forward, Shannon knows that there is still work to be done to achieve gender parity and empower women to set their sights high. But the future is bright, and the future is female, and Shannon is up for the challenge.
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