Online Community For Women: Malavikka Sridharan’s Endeavour To Empower Women

During our weekly Saturday ritual event called Incredible Stories Of Community Entrepreneurs, we had a little chat with Malavikka Sridharan on 17th July. She is the Founder of the online community for women called ‘Married Superwomen’. Her female-only community empowers over 11.6k married ladies to network & engage.

A Senior Content Writer at Cognizant, Malavikka envisions creating a world where sons-in-law and daughters-in-law are treated equally – a sensitive issue she raises awareness on by organizing online community events.

In this exclusive conversation with Malavikka, we got to know:

  • How Did Women Community Building Become A Part Of Her Journey?
  • Some Unique Rituals That She Started In Her Women Community
  • How Does She Keep Her Women Community Members’ Trust And Vulnerability Intact?

…And much more. So let’s get reading!

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How Did Women Community Building Become A Part Of Malavikka’s Journey?

Online community for women was not a part of her plan. Ever since the Orkut days, Malavikka was always very fascinated by the concept of communities. Initially, she joined a community where simple things about vocabulary were discussed. But it was something that all the members had a common interest in. So, she started making friends within the community, and she just loved it.

Even after Orkut, she stayed in touch with those friends on Facebook, and they even exchanged gifts with each other. The concept of community is only so popular right now. But Malavikka wanted a space exclusively for married women because it is considered a very sensitive subject. It is so difficult to find people who can talk about it. 

There are a lot of married people around but you cannot just walk over and ask them to give you relationship tips or advice regarding maintaining the spark. But then she also realized that everyone wants to ask these questions. People want to be heard. Women wanted to talk a lot but, they did not have the people with whom they shared the same interest.

It is hard enough to find people one could confide in a way of sisterhood or friendship.

All this compelled her to start such female-only communities but she didn’t have much knowledge. She just started an online forum for women because she had a very strong purpose. And that purpose is what kept her going.

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What Are Some Rituals And Accomplisments Of The Women Community ‘Married Superwomen’?

‘Married Superwomen’ is a group of married women online worldwide. All of them share a common interest – marriage. Like any other online community for women, people do not just strictly talk about marriage. No women’s forum global network can rely entirely on keeping just one topic in hand.

This idea started when Malavikka realized that she was not alone in her journey. There were so many women out there who wanted the same thing as her. She wanted to create a safe space where her thoughts were valued and agreed upon. This is how she started building online women’s support groups.

For interaction between the members of the women online community, she realized that the questions are excellent CTAs (call to action). One can ask very simple questions. For example, who likes ice cream. It is an excellent question and it also provides the online women’s support groups a lot of engagement.

Another topic for discussion was the subject of marriage. People want to talk about it but all they need is a little push. Seeing other members talk, everyone else just gets into these discussions right away. This is how, through a series of curious questions, the women’s online forum started building.

And every time she faced a challenge, Malavikka understood that every situation can have a challenge but every challenge has a solution too. So she started bringing about the solution approach.

She recalls a time when she wanted to feel validated. It was then that she realized that people around her also long for validation too. Hence, she thought of a really fun activity called ‘Thank your friend’ where for one week or an entire month, all the members can tag fellow members to thank them for something. And through this, everybody started feeling good about themselves. It was a simple thing, yet so powerful.

Last year, Malavikka’s birthday was celebrated with a lot of surprises and happiness. She had never celebrated such an amazing birthday before. Her members surprised her big time. She received a lot of gifts. But then she realized that she was a part of a group where people only celebrated the admin.

For example, people go to the orphanage to celebrate their birthdays thinking that they make the lives of the children there happy. But in reality, those children want to celebrate too. They do not want to look at the people celebrating themselves. Instead, they want to be that person cutting the cake.

In a family, everybody wants to be treated equally and not just one person. The women’s online community should not be about one person but every single member who is a part of it. So she brought in another ritual called ‘The Birthday Surprise’. The members can sign up, and each member pays ₹200. They are all sent a surprise gift thereafter.

According to Malavikka, it was only the idea that was hers, but it would not have been possible without the moderators and volunteers. They are the ones who form the structure of the online women’s support groups where everything happens harmoniously. She ideated this ritual, and a lot of volunteers offered to be a part of the same.

She selected the team of volunteers, and through them, the women community had a system. From registering the names of their members to collecting the money and deciding what time, and from where to procure the gifts. A lot goes on at the backend, and then before the member’s birthday, they disperse all the gifts.

Malavikka’s Thoughts On Collaborating With A Brand Or Business Who Make These Gifts

In her women’s forum global network, the sellers are the members themselves. In her words, “Because it is for them, so let it be by them. And everybody is benefitted.” There are a lot of small entrepreneurs within the group. And since they procure the gifts from within, it benefits the members in a big way.

Each month, 10 to 20 members celebrate their birthdays. The entire process stays registered, so everyone benefits a lot. And for the brands and other small businesses, her worldwide women forum is always open for collaborations.

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What Are Some Of The Most Cherished Accomplishments Of Malavikka’s Online Community For Women ?

One of the remarkable achievements according to Malavikka, is creating a website for her women’s discussion forum. Its name is ‘wedwits.com’. And through her website, she profiles the nuanced efforts of women in marriage.

Society undervalues things like cooking, parenting, and even pregnancy. They take a huge amount of effort on the women’s part but no one appreciates the gesture because every other woman does it. People do not understand what the big deal is.

Hence, she created a website to showcase the importance of these little things to the world. She highlights the efforts of these selfless women and features the members of her women community on the website. 

Another accomplishment to Malavikka is her book, ‘Happily Married: The Bride’s Secret Handbook’ where marriage is a journey. At every phase, women encounter challenges but, all these challenges have a solution as well.

So she wrote this novel to tell people that at any point in time, they have the reins to their life. It is a problem-solving guide for people. It has a set of situational problems and strategies with which it can handle it.

Now That Malavikka’s Women Community Has 11.6k Members, Is Vulnerability And Trust Still There?

In her words, “When you start a community, you need to define a code of ethics. You cannot stop other people judging you, that is not your job. But you can define how the environment in your community is going to be. If the comments are rude or judgmental, that is where your intervention is required.”

She adds, “And it is also important that whatever is discussed within the community, to your knowledge no member should share the screenshots of it or talk about the same outside. If that happens, then you must take appropriate actions, like removing that member for breaching the community’s trust.”

Trust is the primary goal of her women’s online community. The members know that all their texts get delivered to more than eleven thousand people.

Still, they choose to share their story courageously nonetheless because of the trust that they invest in each person. And like every other online forum for women, her women community faces the problem where people leak chats and screenshots. But after a point, Malavikka realized that you cannot figure out how to track what that one person is.

All it does is steal your mental health and peace. However, whatever is visible to her eyes, whatever she knows, she always monitors to make sure that it all goes well.

If Given A Chance To Make Married Superwomen Sustainable, Would She Pursue It As A Full-Time Role?

Malavikka does not see the difference between a full-time role and a part-time role. All it takes is a strong purpose of what an online community for women needs and how a person wants to cater to it. Right now, she does not do everything herself. For every single purpose, she has a team and a set of volunteers working. She guides them on how to go about it. It is a full-time role for her.

Malavikka’s Message To People Wanting To Start Their Communities

Do not start a community just for the sake of creating it. There are already a lot of online women’s support groups in existence. Anybody can start female-only communities but, their reason for starting matters a lot.

In her own words, “Only if there is a reason that you want to pursue, start something that would inspire you. What kind of community would you like to join, and take such an approach so that empathy is in the heart of the community. And that is exactly what will take you till the end and make it sustainable.”

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