India is a country where the social and economic structures are deeply steeped against the growth and agency of women. With the belief that the internet has the power to enable women in scalable and diverse ways, Sairee Chahal founded SHEROES, a women-only social network to reimagine the way women use, experience and benefit from the internet.
“Having grown up in a small town, I was aware of the limitations and aspirations of women,” recalls Chahal. “I wanted to move the needle and create a platform that was an opportunity and resource for women internet users. That would help in their goals in careers, finance, entrepreneurship and other universal spaces of interest,” she adds.
As the world’s first and largest women-only social network, SHEROES functions across four core pillars – building digital identities, making meaningful connections with other women, investing in mental and physical health and finding financial independence. Over 2 million women have benefitted from the helpline till date. The platform has over 20 million women as members and aims to scale to 100 million women by 2023. Its counselling helpline enables members to chat with a professional counsellor at any time and seek support.
According to a 2017 study by Pew Research Centre, 21% of women aged 18 to 29 had experienced online harassment while the figure for men was less than half of that at 9%. Another statistic points out that 56% men tend to think its important to speak their minds freely while 63% women value feeling safe and welcome on the internet. “The internet as an unsafe space in many ways mirrors real life, women seek safe and authentic spaces to have real conversations around workplace struggles, body image issues, abuse, parenting and also discuss aspects, such as ambitions, goals, dreams and how to get there with peers,” says Chahal.
Safety, empathy and trust are the tenets on which Chahal has built the platform. “By 2030, 350 million Indian women are expected to be online. SHEROES aims to be the definitive social network where women internet users can experience differentiated value for their time,” says Chahal.
What made Sairee Chahal a Face of Vibrant Bharat?“SHEROES is providing a culture of social inclusivity to women. A place where they do not have to worry about their safety, security or being judged and thus any moral trolls. It is building a safe and inclusive social media place for them to grow, share their views and build a network of enablers.” Prashant Mehra, Partner, Grant Thornton Bharat”Building a community is tough on the internet, every technology start-up is chasing that ambition. Through their work since 2013, SHEROES has not only created a thriving community for women to grow in their lives and careers but also ensured the community vibe compounded for the business to scale up and shine.” Aman Dhall, Founder, CommsCredible