Prayas was initiated as a unique experiment in January 1998 to nurture the creative talents of the women who come to to Swayam for assistance.

Prayas meaning endeavour, is a magazine written and edited by the women and reflects their thoughts, emotions, and experiences. Writing for the magazine allows them to explore their feelings and is a stepping stone in their search for self and self-confidence. Importantly, it is their platform to reach out to others like them, and also allows them to use their own voices and experiences to protest against and raise awareness of violence against women.

Initially an annual publication, the magazine is now issued four times a year. It contains poetry and prose primarily in Bengali with occasional pieces in Hindi and English. Some issues have themes for which material is generated through writing workshops.

We have successfully published 18 issues of this magazine. The highlights of these 18 issues have been translated into English, and a compilation has just been published to share the women’s writings with a larger audience. If you would like to read some poetry/prose from this compilation, click on the links below.


Freedom Song

Dear parents, beloved parents of ours,
You raised us true, but didn't take care,
To bring us up, upright and aware.
May you be like Sita, was your advice;
Chitrangada is not the right type.
You taught us to speak, but not to speak up;
Showed us the good, not the big bad world.
All's well with the world, is the image you gave;
Kept us in the dark, and made us naïve.
The art of self-defence you never taught,
To protect our body from sudden assault;
Be obedient, was your advice;
Don't break free, that's not nice.
You told us what wasn't just or fair,
But not to stand up against the unfair.
To give in easily is what we learnt from you,
And never to hit back if beaten black and blue.

Dear parents, beloved parents of ours,
This is a prayer from all your daughters;
Set us free under the vast, blue sky
To grow as we please, not timid and shy.

Rekha Das
(from Prayas)


  Selection of Poetry & Prose from Prayas:
   Break the silence
   Poison Tree
   The Digambari Devi


about us     |     our work    |    10 years of swayam    |    facts & figures    |    stories of change    |    publications    |    contact / visit us