Dalit adivasi women representatives excluded in Feminist movement

– Vidya Bhushan Rawat

           In the second day of Asia Land Forum 2019 various parallel sessions were organised in which participants shared their ideas.

           The international Land Coalition said that it is committed to gender justice in its membership network. To find out about representation of wonen, ILC intend to take gender audit of its membership. It will also encourage members to focus on building womens leadership.
          But women’s issues are not as simple and homogeneous as projected by Women’s organisations particularly from India and it’s neighbouring countries. The issues of representation of Dalit Adivasi peasant women and their mainstream feminist movement in India is serious and real.
            The issue was raised by Dr Sujatha Surepally who is prominent academic activist from Telangana. She said that the issues of Dalit Adivasi women were never part of the so-called feminist movent in India. Also, the upper elite urban feminism will not work among the indigenous as the gender relations among Dalit adivasi communities are far cordial and mostly based on equitable and egalitarianism. There is vast knowledge in these communities which need to be documented and it’s important we encourage wonen leaders and representative from these communities in our decision making bodies.
           The irony is that whenever there is talk of fair representation of Dalit adivasi peasant woman is raised the upper caste urban elite react with a vengeance by raising the bogey of knowledge and capacity of these wonen as if ‘merit’  is the sole monopoly of these women. This is really disgraceful. Dalit women face double discrimination. : One being a dalit and other being a woman. Most of the violence against Dalit women is based on ineqitable land holdings as dalit remains mostly landless.
           The feminist discourse should not become a point of denial of entry of Dalit women in our decision making bodies in the name of merit.
              Sujatha Surepally also asked about the program for youth. Just by taking urban youth to villages, you can’t do anything. How many of these youths have dalit and adivasi representation.
Ms Bhavana Ben Desai presented the issues of pastoralist women.
            A report “Gender Discourse in Land Relations’ edited by Sunila Singh and Vidya Bhushan Rawat was released during the event. The book has reports from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Cambodia.
           Dr Sunila Singh moderated the session in which youths and women from various countries participated.