Global Reach: Grantee Partners

Kolkata Sanved


COVID-19 has impacted the mental health and well-being of individuals severely. In India, mental health resources are unable to meet the demand. In addition, mainstream mental health services tend to focus on a clinical perspective and are not easily available to those in low-resource settings. According to WHO, in 2011, there were 0·301 psychiatrists and 0·047 psychologists for every 100,000 patients suffering from a mental health disorder in India. The ‘COVID In Her Voice’ report highlighted how the dominant discourse around COVID-19 positions it as a physical health threat. However, it has a pronounced mental health impact as well, particularly on girls and young women. The respondents described several complex challenges and concerns—from uncertainty to social isolation and parental angst—which affected their mental health and capacity to manage their emotions. 90% reported experiencing mental distress and despair, including depression, lingering sadness, lack of confidence, loneliness, and helplessness. The Leaders Lab has prioritized the need to create safe and violence-free spaces for girls and women within the city by engaging with the wider community, especially boys to end victim-blaming and ensure that gender-based violence is not normalized.


Kolkata Sanved, a woman-led organization, was founded by Dr. Sohini Chakraborty, along with 5 founder members who were survivors of gender-based violence emerging from marginalized communities, on 29th April 2004. Kolkata Sanved has 28 full-time staff, and 20 part-time staff in total (40 females, 7 males, and 1 gender non-binary). The survivor to healers and leaders approach is the core aspect of Kolkata Sanved’s approach to social development. The organization prioritizes the recruitment of survivors of trauma and marginalization and has 60% of Kolkata Sanved’s board and senior leadership team and DMT practitioners emerge from marginalized communities. Its three areas of intervention are: (i) Ensuring the well-being of survivors of violence and marginalized communities through DMT; (ii) Working towards prevention of violence and marginalization; and (iii) Creating an ecosystem for the use of DMT in the fields of social development, health, education, and policy. Kolkata Sanved conducts several campaigns to speak out against violence and stand up for gender equality. These campaigns also spread awareness about the power of Dance Movement Therapy and other arts-based therapies in enhancing mental health and well-being. Its Diploma in Dance Movement Therapy program is conducted in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and is designed to train DMT practitioners and promote movement therapy as a tool for resilience-building across India. 

Kolkata Sanved’s vision is to form a healthy, violence-free, gender-equal, creative society of empowered individuals and its mission is to build the ecosystem for Dance Movement Therapy-for Change across Asia and create leaders and changemakers in the field, especially from underprivileged communities. To achieve this, Kolkata Sanved is aiming to set up a Centre of Excellence on Dance Movement Therapy in India and South Asia.

Current Grant:

EMpower's second grant to Kolkata Sanved will enable them work with 200 marginalized youth in the age range 15-24 (45% Female, 55% male) who will have access to Dance Movement Therapy (DMT) sessions for their mental health and well-being; will go through the Training of Trainer (ToT) program for providing peer support as leaders. This will be implemented by training a cohort of 20 social workers and teachers in dance movement therapy across 7 organizations.  With EMpower’s flexible funding, Kolkata Sanved will invest in institutional strengthening by facilitating a retreat for strategic planning and capacity strengthening workshop for 30 staff members.

You can support our work with Kolkata Sanved and our other grantee partners.

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