Shoes for Slums: Our Effort to Empower Global Communities One Step at a Time
When we co-founded Women Who Win, I knew we wanted to empower women around the world by celebrating and highlighting women’s wins and achievements. At the time what I didn’t know was that we were going to have an even greater, more tangible and global impact.
Having grown up in Mumbai, in my formative years I had seen many people live, work and travel barefoot through the monsoons, sweltering heat, etc. At the time it seemed par for the course. While going through podiatry school at Temple University and since I became a podiatrist, I knew this phenomenon to be wrong at so many levels. The statistics are staggering with 80 million people who live in slums and villages, 62 million diabetics, and 20%-foot amputations. Being in the super-specialized field of foot and ankle medicine and having seen the lack of foot health and education in India, I knew there was a massive need that needed to be served.
While I had this in the back of my mind, as all things go, there is a time and place for everything. This dream came to fruition after we formed Women Who Win in the summer of 2020, amid the pandemic. Dr. Manju Sheth and I have been friends since we were co-chairs of the Indian Medical Association of New England Women’s Forum in 2008 and since then, have always wanted to work toward women empowerment. During the pandemic when her daughter, Shaleen Sheth, like the rest of us, was home we discussed this idea, and “women who win” was born out of that discussion. Since then we have featured hundreds of women, their stories, dreams, and achievements hoping to inspire, mentor and uplift others.
Being an internist Dr. Manju Sheth has seen, firsthand, multiple medical conditions including diabetes and its effect on the feet including ulcers, gangrene leading to amputations. She feels strongly that “many complications are preventable with good shoes and education on how to protect your feet.” And, I couldn’t have said it better, “as always, good intentions bring together like-minded people”. With that and with Shaleen Sheth as our tech and marketing advisor we created our charity, “Shoes for Slums” aka “the Shoe Project.”
Our mission is to provide good quality, podiatrist—approved, and weather-appropriate shoes to communities in need across India because proper footwear is essential in preventing foot disease, infections, and amputations, and keeping safe while working. Furthermore, we are collaborating with podiatrists across the U.S. to educate and provide guidelines on foot health, which will also be donated with each pair of shoes. (Translated to Hindi and other local languages).
Since its inception, we have had an outstanding response to our pilot program. We partnered with the Lions Club of Juhu in Mumbai and along with their team Lion Auxiliary ladies Samina Jawadwala, Jasmine Jhaveri and Ushma Roy who donated over 700 pairs of shoes to the women of the Adivasi village. These women were excited to finally have the right footwear to complete their work, and many blessings to our entire team. We were honored to have received the support of organizations like the Lions club, especially the women’s team of Juhu, Mumbai, and IMANE (Indian Medical Association of New England), led by Dr. Dhrumil Shah. As Dr. Sheth states “This is the beginning of an ongoing project with multiple organizations In India followed by other places in the world as we are a global platform.”
Going into the next phase of the project, we hope to reach different underserved communities across India, providing all different kinds of footwear. Our co-founder Shaleen Sheth was overwhelmed with the response from the pilot and states, “It was striking to see how much receiving a simple pair of shoes can mean to people. I would love to provide different types of shoes for different needs as we grow the project — athletic shoes, shoes for particular health conditions, etc.” Also, her business expertise and vision have been invaluable as she helps us explore women-led shoe companies and manufacturers, raising awareness and growing the initiatives, and bringing the non-healthcare worker perspective.
This initiative in its early days has truly started to resonate with the healthcare community and the South Asian community. Personally, for me, this project is very close to my heart as it ties in my profession and my Indian roots to create an immense impact in the daily lives of hundreds of people by preventing limb-threatening foot infections. This project has also created a buzz in the podiatry community, particularly with Indian American podiatrists as well as major footwear companies who have offered tremendous support for this initiative in the form of articles to educate the community, donations, and involvement by podiatric and diabetic organizations across the U.S.
Founded by three South-Asian women from Boston, the platform is coming to its first anniversary and has seen wonderful success in showcasing the stories of leading women across industries and all walks of life to an audience of thousands of people in over 80 countries. Our team has created a global community with a passion for women empowerment, with weekly stories and forums for all topics such as women’s health, lifestyle, inspiration, business & entrepreneurship, and more. To join our dynamic community, share your story, and be a part of initiatives like this, email the team at email@example.com
Join Women Who Win in empowering global communities one step at a time.
To donate to the cause, and for more information, visit their site.
Check out a video of their pilot program with the Lion’s Club of Juhu and Indian Medical Association of New England.
Dr. Manju Sheth is a physician at Beth Israel Lahey Hospital. She is the President of India New England Multimedia, the New England Choice Awards, and the director of the Woman of the Year Gala. Her Chai with Manju series has featured several esteemed guests, including Congressman Joe Kennedy and Senator Elizabeth Warren. She was co-chair of the Women’s Forum at the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE).
Dr. Deepa Jhaveri is an experienced podiatrist, skilled in Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Healthcare Information Technology. Jhaveri has a passion for causes that help uplift women. She has a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University and is on the executive board of the Indian Medical Association of New England (IMANE).
Shaleen Sheth is a Boston-based young professional, with a passion for technology and social entrepreneurship. She works in the e-commerce space and is a co-founder of Women Who Win. She believes women empowerment comes from different generations sharing their stories and creating a supportive community together.