I will not die a victim, I want to live as a leader

The incredible Dalit leader, Manisha Mashaal: “When I look at my life I know that as a Valmiki woman there are hardly any places where I can find another of my sisters. Even after my education, my travels, and leadership, I still find myself discriminated against, underestimated, and shoved aside. Discriminated by both upper caste and also other Dalits who do not address their English and caste privileges which act against the members of castes below them, and those whose English fluency is not on par with them. If I struggle like this, then I can only imagine what other rural Dalit women must struggle with?”

At the AWID Forum I just returned from, Dalit feminists had moved from being participants in the past to being presenters of sessions in the present. While I celebrated with them, I also questioned with them when and how the 260M + Dalits of the world would find their place in ‘plenary’, when their struggle and power would be acknowledged widely and visibly. And before we turn to the world stage, let’s acknowledge our own biases and invisibilities in India, in South Asia. Manisha, hum aapke saath hain, lekin bolne aur karne mein bahuth pharakh hai. Keep us honest, my friend. #DalitWomenFight

(and in Hindi.)

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