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Gramvaani has a rich history of developing mixed media content that includes audio-video stories, developing reports based on surveys conducted with population cut off from mainstream media channels and publishing research papers that helps in changing the way policies are designed for various schemes. Our blog section is curation of those different types of content.

Beyond Boundaries: Kaneez Fatima’s Pursuit of Community Change at Mobile Vaani

ruby quadri 29 January 2024

“It was one of the most moving events of my life when the grievance I recorded for someone not receiving a pension was resolved. I could see and feel the impact of my work on the Mobile Vaani network”. – Kaneez Fatima, Mobile Vaani Volunteer

Meet Kaneez Fatima, a 35-year-old woman from Mahoba in Uttar Pradesh. Three months ago, after stepping into her role as a volunteer with Mobile Vaani, Kaneez became one of the most familiar voices in the Mobile Vaani community. 

Born and raised in the small and one of the weaker districts of the Bundelkhand regions of Uttar Pradesh, Kaneez had an early marriage, became a mother of two and her husband works as an auto driver. One evening, her fate led her to Mobile Vaani, when she visited Banda to meet her elder sister. There she witnessed several community women gathered for a meeting led by a Mobile Vaani volunteer, Rizwana. She saw how  the women  were discussing their problems and how patiently Rizwana answered each of them and facilitated the recording of the grievances of women present there. This entire scene made a lasting impression on Kaneez, and later she thought that if Banda could have such a network, she could be the sole starter in creating a similar network of Mobile Vaani in Mahoba. She went to Rizwana and shared this idea, who in turn responded by connecting her with the state lead, Anis. After understanding from him how this could be done, she discussed this with her husband. With his full support she joined Mobile Vaani then and started this volunteer network in a new geography, Mahoba.

Kaneez vividly recalls a defining moment during her visit to a 42 km away village of Pagmau Tiyala in Chitrakoot. Accompanied by her husband on one late evening, she was overwhelmed by the number of people with grievances awaiting resolution. Several grievances were related to sanitation, garbage and cleaning up of their village roads, in addition to issues with the ration card and aadhar card. She adds that, if she had to help every person record their grievances she would have been there the whole night. This experience left an indelible impression on Kaneez, highlighting the desperate need of the people to be heard when no other avenue was available.

As a part of her weekly plan to increase outreach, she organizes community meetings in the neighboring villages of Mahoba, conveying a powerful message: that only if you can record your grievances on Mobile Vaani, Mobile Vaani will work for us in addressing these grievances. Kaneez convinced her community to use Mobile Vaani’s IVR technology and the mobile app to record their grievances, listen to the programs and ensure that other Mobile Vaani volunteers like her would see how grievances were being addressed.


Her challenges as a woman from a minority community include conforming to societal expectations and being the primary caregiver for  the family. She adheres to predefined roles and activities as part of the belief system prevalent in her community. Kaneez faces several other challenges – the biggest is people’s fear of technology, of their phone being hacked or getting financially scammed by fraudsters posing as bank officials. Incidentally, this is something even Kaneez fears. However, because she understands why technology can help, she tries to address these concerns by explaining it in a simple manner. She assures them further saying,  why would she  travel all these long distances if she had to give wrong information or mislead them.


Change within a three month journey


Despite having studied till only the 8th-grade, Kaneez emphasizes on how her training and continuous learning from fellow Mobile Vaani volunteers and field managers have empowered her. She now exudes confidence and marvels at her newfound ability to engage with government officials, panchayat officials, and mukhiyas (village heads) and being respected for her volunteer work within her community as an MVN volunteer. She is also identified as a journalist due to her impactful reporting of local issues on Mobile Vaani. As she reflects on her journey, Kaneez acknowledges the dual role of Mobile Vaani. While it undoubtedly provides technological and logistical support for communities with their grievances and getting their voice heard, its transformative effect on her personal life is beyond expression. Kaneez expresses heartfelt gratitude for the opportunities Mobile Vaani has opened up for her.

Way ahead

Presently, Kaneez eagerly anticipates interviewing SP Aparna Singh, aiming to build a personal relationship that could facilitate a smoother resolution of grievances. In her quest to address the diverse issues recorded under programs, Kaneez has found her niche in resolving pension-related matters. For her, ensuring pensions for the elderly is a fundamental need, as it is their sole financial resource, post-retirement.

Kaneez Fatima’s journey with Mobile Vaani exemplifies resilience and dedication. Her efforts have not only empowered the people of Mahoba but also showcased the transformative potential of how a participatory, inclusive, bottom-up media platform can address the diverse needs of and enable low-income communities in rural and remote regions to bring positive changes in their lives. Breaking free from preconceived societal constraints, Kaneez Fatima pioneers a path towards a broader, more inclusive world of opportunities, advocating for social and gender equality through her transformative work in community engagement via Mobile Vaani. 

Kaneez Fatima in addition to being a Mobile Vaani volunteer, is also a singer with her own YouTube channel and songs on Mobile Vaani. She strives to balance each of her roles as a mother, wife, daughter and socially conscious and active member of her community according to her faith. Girls and adults alike look up to her as an inspiration.

At Gram Vaani’s flagship programme, Mobile Vaani, our community volunteers network weaves community bonds with unwavering commitment. Their volunteer spirit not only echoes through the voices they amplify but resonates as a testament to the transformative power of grassroots efforts in making a meaningful difference on the ground.