Civil Rights

Anu Maria Francis Wins 2022 Asia Think Tank Shark Tank Competition

Anu TTST Winner 2
Francis pitches her project, concerning the hospitality sector in India, using a wine glass as a prop

At each Atlas Network Regional Liberty Forum, one highlight of the event is the Think Tank Shark Tank competition, which gives three individuals from partner organizations the opportunity to present a five-minute pitch to audience members and a panel of judges for the chance to receive US$10,000 in additional funding for their grant project.

The winner of the 2022 Asia Liberty Forum Think Tank Shark Tank is Anu Maria Francis, a research associate from the Centre for Public Policy Research in India. Francis pitched a research project to develop the understanding of the restrictions placed on women in the hospitality sector in India’s coastal state of Kerala.

“I was quite nervous about competing in the Shark Tank,” said Francis, “but Atlas Network friends were so supportive. I find it difficult to put into words, but the feeling and experience of pitching my idea in front of the think tank fraternity was one-of-a-kind. Through the project, CPPR will focus on lifting the restrictions faced by women in the hospitality industry to work as bartenders. These projects put together will open up more choices for women to decide what job she should do, when and where she should work. #EndEmploymentBias.”

In Kerala the tourism and hospitality sector contributes to 1.5 million employment opportunities, and a major source of state revenue comes from the liquor industry. Although women can purchase and consume alcohol in Kerala, they are barred from equal employment opportunities due to a legal framework that inhibits women from working in any capacity involving the serving of liquor. The CPPR project will advocate for equal employment opportunities for women in Kerala, thereby ensuring greater economic and social freedom.

“It was my first Asia Liberty Forum and a memorable one with winning the Think Tank Shark Tank Award. It was an inspiring and invigorating experience to have participated in the Forum, and listening to the personal experiences of freedom fighters working against authoritarian governments was indeed an eye opener."

- Anu Maria Francis