Madhavi helped start Vanangana in eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) in the 1990s, a violently feudal part of the country. Over the past two decades Vanangana has worked with muslim and dalit (“untouchable”) women to build their capacities to confront the routinized violence they have historically experienced.
In eastern UP, dalit/muslim women are subject to gendered violence within the home, often overlaid by violence meted out by a caste elite and by the state, particularly the police. Taking on patriarchy-induced violence within these three, overlapping domains has often led to a fearsome backlash, and it has taken immense courage for these rural, marginalized women to stand their ground.
As a young girl growing up in Egypt pre-revolution, Asmaa saw many girls pulled out of school at an early age to get married or simply because educating girls was seen as a waste of time. Asmaa knew this was unfair, and as the revolution grew momentum, she saw women play a key role in fighting for justice. “It is a very exciting time to be a young woman in Egypt,” says Asmaa, “because during the revolution women and men stood side-by-side fighting for our rights. Gender equality had just been born, but I believe perhaps we can experience it fully in the future.”
Since childhood Malaya Pinas has seen the dark side of globalization and violence in the Philippines. She walked to school barefoot after selling eggs and cigarettes in her nation’s ports and toiled in banana plantations to earn her way through college. Her dream is to see her people free from poverty and oppression and free to chart their own destiny.
Malaya speaks out as a journalist and activist in one of the most deadly countries to be a journalist in the world. Sadly, in 2009 two of her women colleagues were killed in the largest massacre of journalists in recorded history. For her, the risks she faces by speaking out are outweighed by the risks of continued silence.
Nsimire’s work has brought hope and life to hundreds of women in South and now also North Kivu that had born the brunt of war, poverty, sexual violence and discrimination. What’s remarkable about her achievements is the fact that it has been done with minimal resources in an area that is still conflict-ridden and therefore highly risky for women. Nsimire is a true force of nature for the women in Eastern Congo. She knows that the power of sisterhood, education and empowerment for women is key to bringing peace and an end to violence against women in one of the worst regions of the world.
Alba Stella Barreto
In Cali, Colombia, a group of women from the District of Aguablanca is helping to bring peace and justice to one of the country’s poorest and most violent urban areas. Using skills and information disseminated through a network of weekly meetings, local women assist local residents both by providing a range of essential services – from mediation to adult education – and by referring residents to other service providers and resources in the community. This group, which is strikingly community-based, female, well-led, disciplined, and holistic, is now being touted as a model for communities elsewhere in Colombia.
Samar Minallah Khan
The practice of swara, wherein girls are given as compensation to end disputes—from murder to property quarrels—had been practiced openly and legally in Pakistan for generations. In 2003, Samar Minallah Khan, a Pakistani Pashtun documentary filmmaker, freelance journalist, human rights activist, and anthropologist created a documentary on swara to raise the profile of the custom and persuade policymakers to recognize the problem and eliminate it.