Even as women’s movements around the world are gathering massive strength in scope and context, there is still much to be done to ensure gender empowerment. International Women’s Day is a celebration to honour women’s achievements in various fields, putting into the spotlight women who have made a name for themselves in spite of the challenges that tried to restrict their empowerment and restrained them from being what they are now. This year, the celebration is encouraging women to “Be Bold for Change”. One of the biggest challenges that women face is to be seen for themselves instead of the societal roles they are fulfilling. Throughout the world, there are several initiatives being taken which are aimed at empowering women and to change this reality. Several proactive organizations are reaching out to women who are supressed by societal pressures, they help establish self-help groups, educate them about their rights and work towards improving the social, economic and cultural standing of women.Closer to home, in a small village in Punjab, a new initiative has taken birth. Here, women are initiating change by defying antiquated stereotypes. Dhori a tiny village, a place where men and women subscribe to the conservative gender roles – where women are usually the home makers and avoid going outside their houses unnecessarily. With little knowledge of cleanliness or hygiene, these women, mothers, are unable to protect their children and families from diseases like diarrhoea, typhoid and influenza which are prevalent. In some cases, these can prove to be life-threatening, especially among younger children. Last year, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) Pakistan, makers of Dettol and Harpic, under its social responsibility umbrella of “Sehatmant Gharanay, Khushaal Pakistan (SGKP)” initiated the education and empowerment of women from low-income households stressing the importance of a healthier and more hygienic lifestyle. Once they themselves are equipped with this knowledge, these women, Sehat Aapas, go door-to-door reinforcing the message of health and hygiene throughout the village. Unused to women speaking about such issues, let alone spreading the message by going door-to-door, villagers who were wary of these bold women have started welcoming these now routine visitors in their households. They look forward to hearing what they have to say and how they can help them to ensure they remain healthy.What makes this initiative by RB unique is that while educating these women, it also turns them into income-earners for the families. As they go door-to-door educating various households within their village, they carry a basket of health and hygiene products to complement the education. They earn commissions which add up to their overall household income as they sell these products to promote healthier lifestyles within their community. While empowering them economically, this also helps them defeat age-old gender stereotypes where a woman is only meant to look after the house.Having started out in one small village, the initiative has now expanded to more than 25 villages impacting thousands of households. Its philosophy to empower and change behaviour through education and affordable solutions has emboldened these women to become change-agents within their communities.Each woman who becomes a Sehat Aapanot only defies stereotypes; she sets an example for those around her to do the same. Through education on health and hygiene, they learn to better protect their children and families. Simultaneously, with this knowledge and the ability to earn their own income, they become financially independent, empowered to take their own as well as have a strong say in household decisions.Within their societal roles as mothers and wives, they initiate a new power dynamic where the man alone is not solely the source of income and hence is not the only family member to have a say. They can proudly stand on an equal footing within the family structure. As an initiative that has started at the grassroots, it has the potential to create a far-reaching and sustainable impact, giving even more women the opportunity to “be bold for change”.