Deepa Pawar and Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association, the two winners were felicitated at the 5th Martha Farrell Award Ceremony on 20th November, along with Special Jury Awardees, Suman Devathiya and Sappho for Equality.
Founder-director of Anubhuti Charitable Trust,
Deepa Pawar is the founder-director of Anubhuti Charitable Trust, and over the past five years, she has founded and built up perhaps one of the only Nomadic and De-notified Tribe (NT-DNT) woman-led organization. Through her organization, Deepa works for intersectional gender justice work at the grassroots level, including with NT-DNT communities.
Through Anubhuti Trust, Deepa works with NT-DNT, ST and SC communities and youth on mental justice- in intersection with social security and justice, gender empowerment, leadership training, sexual and reproductive health rights, and safe higher education and working spaces for youth with focus on the inclusion of religious minorities, migrants, workers in vulnerable occupations, women with disability, sexual minorities and other vulnerabilities in these areas.
Deepa’s work as an individual, a team member in organisations and the leader of an organisation over the last two decades have helped her sharpen her feminist, anti-caste lens. She has been able to take these learnings to her family life, as well as her professional life. She is one of the few women in the community who didn’t take her husband’s name after marriage, and her daughter takes her name, not her husband’s. Deepa embodies Dr. Farrell’s principles of ‘feminism in everyday life’, and includes a feminist praxis lens in each aspect of her life.
Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association,
Established in 2002, Shaheen Women’s Resource and Welfare Association is a grassroots organization located in the Old City of Hyderabad, that is committed to the cause of women’s rights, and communal harmony. Shaheen’s unique position to support Muslim, Dalit and OBC communities is facilitated from its location in an area where intersections of gender, caste, religion and class have led to multiple forms of oppression for women.
Towards the end of empowering women and girls from marginalized communities using an intersectional feminist lens, Shaheen has five strategic priorities. These include economic empowerment, health awareness, gender sensitization and child rights, advocacy with stakeholders, and culture and harmony.
Shaheen’s commitment towards protecting its employees exemplifies institutional safeguards towards making workplaces safe. Their work reflects Dr. Farrell’s commitment to gender mainstreaming within organizations, and gender transformational organizational practices.
Started in 1999, Sappho began as an emotional support group and a collective for Lesbian women. It is the oldest organization in Eastern India that works with and for the gender-sexually marginalized population who identify as Lesbian, Bisexual women, and transmasculine persons (LBT).
Towards ensuring gender equality and supporting persons in the LBT community, Sappho for Equality provides peer counselling, runs a helpline for crisis interventions, provides mental health counselling services to LBT individuals and their families. Sappho for Equality also saw a need to start a ‘Crisis Intervention Centre’ (a short stay shelter home) during the COVID-19 lockdown when trans persons and lesbians living with their natal families were experiencing a lot of domestic violence. In addition to this, Sappho has also started a livelihood generation project for LBT persons, training and capacitating persons to be members of the workforce. The organization’s work also includes knowledge and literature generation on issues facing the LBT community— issues which are often side-lined from mainstream knowledge discourses.
With a strong queer feminist lens, Sappho for Equality epitomizes how organizational learnings should be mainstreamed in personal lives as well. Their work reflects Dr. Farrell’s commitment to re-iterating that the ‘Personal is the Political’.
Suman Devathiya is a senior Dalit woman leader in India. She lives in Rajasthan, a state North-western India and has been working with and for Dalit women for more than 15 years. A Dalit woman herself, Suman brings with her, a vast knowledge of human rights laws and deep networks with grassroot movements that are accessing justice for caste-affected communities.
Suman is currently the Rajasthan state head of Dalit Women Fight, and her primary role involves providing critical and practical support to Dalit women survivors of caste-based sexual violence, including through fact-finding missions. Positive advocacy for legal recourse has been facilitated in 2500 extreme cases of violations of human rights and atrocities based on caste and gender and the victims have been given compensation owing to Suman’s direct intervention. Suman, as a national and a state-wide leader, also helps other Dalit women activists to design effective campaigns and strategies.
Suman is the first woman in her village to move to an urban space, and attend international conferences. Her intersectional feminist, anti-caste, and anti-patriarchy lens permeates every aspect of her life, and she has also transferred these values to her daughter. Suman has devoted her life towards ending violence against women, by strengthening and working with systems and structures— a practice that Dr. Farrell embodied throughout her illustrious career.