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Jan 2016
MukkaMaar is Born

MukkaMaar classes started with just 4 girls on a Mumbai beach and a simple vision.

Mar 2017
In The Public Eye

We grew to 100 girls and were featured in a Promax winning MTV Video that got over a million views.

Sep 2017
Champions Of Change

MukkaMaar girls started participating in district and state level tournaments, bringing home 14 medals and getting featured in the local newspapers.

Nov 2017
School Pilot

MukkaMaar was then invited by a NGO run government school in Juhu to conduct MukkaMaar classes during school hours for 300 students.

June 2018
BMC Partnership

After a successful pilot, with the support of school leaders, we established a partnership with BMC with access to all 1100+ schools.

July 2018
Established as a non-profit

MukkaMaar was finally registered as a Charitable Trust under Maharashtra Public Trusts Act

Oct 2018
State level

6 girls went for State Level Wushu competition to Aurangabad, and came back with 3 medals. Girls who were not allowed to even step outside, went to another city!

Nov 2018
33 schools

We moved fast with developing a Trainer training program, recruitment of trainers, and by November, we were teaching ~1800 girls across 33 BMC schools.

Mar 2019
Women's Day 2019

We celebrated International Women’s Day through an inter-school competition across our schools. The girls showcased group demos, poems and debates at the event that saw an attendance of more than 500 girls along with approximately 200 parents and teachers. The event was graced by Shabana Azmi as the guest of honour.

July 2019
Nudge Incubator

MukkaMaar was selected from ~500 applications into the Nudge incubator.

Dec 2019
75 schools landmark

With continued efforts, we reached 75 BMC schools, with ~3000 girls enrolled. Girls in schools had begun to speak openly about harassment, without shame, and reported responding positively and assertively to threats.

Mar 2020
Women's Day 2020

We celebrated International Women’s day through an Inter-school competition across our schools. This time, we saw an attendance of ~2000 people (girls, parents, teachers). The event was graced by celebrities like Richa Chadha.

Jun 2020
Covid And Community Work

While offline operations came to a standstill, our team continued online sessions with girls we were connected online with and started volunteering with Khana Chahiye for relief activities. Overall, we facilitated the delivery of ration for ~1000 families in Mumbai.

July 2020
UnLtd India

MukkaMaar was selected as part of UnLtd India's incubation program at the growth stage.

Sep 2020
Equity Labs - PT Teacher Training

Leveraging the department of Physical Education, which has 315 PT teachers in Mumbai, we began training on gender equitable PE pedagogy with a vision to implement MukkaMaar program through existing infrastructure.

Apr 2021
New Reach + Impact

Our online program 'Chal Ab MukkaMaar' saw a reach of 11K unique logins, with significant shift in knowledge and skills.

May 2021
POWER with Mukki

We piloted a WhatsApp based program that uses elements of gamification with engaging content. Here, learning can take place in a self-paced low-tech environment.

Jan 2021
ExpressAWE Award

Ishita was recognised as 'Social Entrepreneur of the Year' under the rising star category, by Financial Express and FICCI Flo. 

May 2022
SARTHI award

POWER with Mukki was recognised as a Top Technological Innovation, along with a USD 10K grant, by ADPC, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & FICCI.

October 2022
Back To School

MukkaMaar's offline reach expanded to 1500 girls across 36 schools in Mumbai.

March 2023
Annual Fest. 2023

After 2 years of hiatus, MukkaMaar returned with the Annual Fest celebrating Women's Day on March 12th, 2023. The event saw the participation of -1000 girls along with their parents. Senior actor Dilip Joshi, Girija Oak, Rasika Duggal, and Ritwik Dhanjani were some celebrities who graced the event.

Oct 2023
Grow and sustain

Currently, our offline reach has crossed 3000 MukkaMaar Girls across 56 Schools in Mumbai.

Founder's Note

Ishita Sharma – Actor, dancer, Entrepreneur

(Trigger warning – Mentions of sexual assault)

My stint running an interdisciplinary performance arts studio in Mumbai allowed me to get introduced to various art forms. I started learning mixed martial arts, kalarippayattu and kung-fu as I saw myself get stronger, fitter and even more confident. Before I realised it, I was less afraid; be it eve-teasing, travelling alone at night (which was unavoidable for me), speaking my mind, making a noise when needed… I could go on.

One fateful night in 2016, I happened to watch a disturbing documentary about one of the many rape cases in India. It was the gruesome case of 5-year-old Gudiya. This was post Nirbhaya, and just as heinous. I was feeling helpless and extremely angry.

Sleepless and pained, I began thinking about how the issue is as much personal as it is a collective reflection of who we are. I recognized the need to focus on the collective, to resolve my personal. The empowerment I felt from my transformation was something I wanted to share with all women, especially with girls of the future generation.

Thus began the journey of MukkaMaar. We wanted to be very sure that girls who learn with us will be given the level of training that they remember and can use for a lifetime. The very next weekend, we started a self-defence class on Versova beach, in Mumbai. In February 2016, we started with 5 girls (ages 5-15) and within a few months, the number grew beyond 100. 

During these classes, I had multiple conversations with the girls. They spoke about how they face abuse at home and outside daily. They are told to be afraid, to not speak up, to suffer in silence and become perfect victims. Such deeply patriarchal issues cannot be resolved by simply providing self-defence classes to girls. We needed to equip them with something that was hitting the nail where needed. A change in mindset and behaviour was to be brought to disrupt and deter threats before they turn into violence. 

They were now able to use the shield of safety to make decisions without the fear of something happening or the opinion of people.  To turn “I’m not allowed”, and “how can I” into “these are my fundamental rights and I know how to get them”.

By 2017, the girls on the beach decided to enter into competitions. To our utter surprise, everyone who participated won! The unbelievable was happening. A year of training gave them an unshakeable confidence that they could do anything. And they did. It wasn’t as much about the competitions, as it was about the mindset. The girls were able to experience the same positive effects and transformations I went through. 

These ideas set as the foundation of the MukkaMaar Program.

The girls asked me to increase the MukkaMaar team so that more girls can learn this. So, in 2017, we tweaked and evolved the project into a program and brought it to a Municipal school, teaching 300 girls in 6th, 7th, and 8th standards. The MukkaMaar period became like a compulsory activity for girls; to be done twice a week during school hours.

With the new changes, we could envision MukkaMaar spreading across the whole nation. I was excited to see how the world around me would change if that were to happen! Imagine, if every girl was safe. If every girl was strong. If we all supported each other. If schools taught this like they teach Math. If girls aspired to do push-ups and punching. If we were never scared. If one could walk on the road without covering our breasts. If we don’t freeze the next time we are touched. If our reflex is to defend, not be numb. If we can stand up not just for ourselves, but accompany our brothers and friends and protect them. What if women suddenly became stronger than the opposite sex and believed it too?

The visual was too grand to say no. And so, in June 2018, MukkaMaar was finally registered as a non-profit organisation, after unlearning, learning, re-learning and growing close to the community, for more than 24 months. The news of the registration coming through, came along with a tie-up with MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai) to bring MukkaMaar to all girls in 6th, 7th and 8th across their 1100+ schools.

But our work has only just begun. We have not even scratched the surface.

There are ~25 million 11 to 14-year-old girls in India, who do not have the skills to defend themselves. We hope to reach all of them, in this lifetime.

If you have ever envisioned a world that I have, it’s time to say hello and join the cause. Use a hashtag, post a picture, share this page, write to us, speak to your boss, donate, volunteer, speak to girls, lecture, speak to a government, plan an event, or just write some encouraging words to us; anything helps. The journey will be tough, but thoroughly enjoyable, I assure you!

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