THE BLOG

India's First Female Fight Club

24/01/2014 16:50 GMT | Updated 26/03/2014 09:59 GMT

Last week I came to London to announce that a long held dream of mine is coming true.

In partnership with Vodafone, I'm going to share self-defence techniques and tips with women throughout India. We'll teach women mental and physical skills that will improve their self-confidence and help them defend themselves.

Having been the victim of an attack myself, I know the importance of basic self-defence techniques. They can make the difference between life and death.

In my case, I managed to successfully defend myself. I'm lucky I knew how to.

It all started last year when Vodafone asked me what I wanted to do for the first time. I said that I wanted to make basic self-defence techniques accessible to women across India.

A few months later, I was launching India's first Female Fight Club, a self-defence club for women.

The club is in Manipur, where I grew up, but I wanted to make it widely available to women across India. With Vodafone's help and technology we can reach more people.

As many women in India do not have access to a smartphone, we are creating a free SMS service which will provide them with access to security and self-defence tips and techniques, and helpline numbers.

It's not about teaching women in India how to punch or use violence; it is about equipping them with tips and techniques that will help them feel confident, aware and strong. For example, how to travel safely.

More and more women in India want to learn self-defence. This is definitely the moment for a Female Fight Club. But to me, this is about more than just self-defence. It's about an attitude, confidence and empowerment.

All women have the right to feel safe, wherever they are.

I've been fighting prejudice my whole life. When I was young, people said girls shouldn't box, but I kept going. I went on to win World Championships and an Olympic medal. It's something I feel very strongly about.

If my Fight Club can inspire just one woman to stand-up and be empowered, I will be pleased.

I remember when we started the Fight Club, approaching a group of teenage girls and persuading them to come along. I demonstrated a basic boxing jab and they all started laughing. It just showed how strange it was for them to see a woman doing something that they would normally only expect a man to do.

Eventually, they came along to try a few moves and there was excitement and surprise with every punch. They loved it. I've noticed that just getting women into their training clothes can make them feel stronger.

I know that my Fight Club won't change the world. But I am confident it will make a difference to a lot of women. Since winning the Olympics, I have become quite a well-known figure in India. I am a role model to many women and I want to use that in a positive way. I hope my example will inspire other women and help make them strong.

My dream is for all Indian women, from students to housewives, to be able to look after themselves and not feel scared.

My Female Fight Club is part of Vodafone Firsts. It's about inspiring people to do something remarkable for the first time, with the help of mobile technology. I think it is great because it inspires people to think in a new way, and that is really important in building women's self-confidence.

You can watch a film that tells the story of how I created my First Female Fight Club here