“I want young Dalit women to be part of a society where they can express their opinions and

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Jyotsna Siddharth, Indian actress, writer and activist, spoke at a side event at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, co-hosted by UN Women and the National Alliance of Women’s Organizations in India. In this interview, Ms. Siddharth talks about the anti-caste and young feminist movement in India.

Jyotsna Siddharth. Photo courtesy of Jyotsna Siddharth

I was a feminist before I was born. My mother was a high profile feminist activist and before I even knew who my caste was, or who my mother was and the relevance of her work, the conversations I had shaped my politics and my worldview.

When I went to college, I began to explore the intersection of love, relationships, caste, and religion.

I started the Anti-Love Caste Project to bring these conversations into popular culture. Thanks to the project, I realized that the identity of people, especially that of marginalized young women, is not monolithic. Identities of caste, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion – are all part of our experiences of being women in India. The narrative around caste has been largely male-driven; we rarely make political agendas with the people we want to make the agendas for. We need to make room for marginalized castes in feminism, and room for gender and sexuality in the anti-caste movement.

Intergenerational alliances play a key role in understanding and promoting the Dalit movement [1]. As members of the Dalit community, we continue to struggle with basic commodity issues, but at the same time, our issues have evolved as well. As more and more community members are able to access education, gain financial autonomy and form intersectional alliances, the issues they face are sometimes different from the past. As the next generation, we must learn from the lessons of the older generation, strengthen their legacy and, at the same time, create new works.

From my perspective, we need to stop seeing Dalits only as beneficiaries or target groups for development, and recognize them as academics, thinkers, experts, practitioners and people who can contribute to global discourses. I want young Dalit women to be part of a society where they can express their opinions and express their desires. The discourse must go beyond the fact that Dalit women can only access basic amenities, we must give them resources, grants and scholarships so that they can dream of a more than basic life.


Jyotsna Siddharth heads Gender At Work in India, a feminist non-profit organization that runs intersectional and inclusive programs. and relationships. She speaks at a side event at the 76e United Nations General Assembly, titled “Young Feminist Leaders in Policy and Public Advocacy on Intersectionality and Diversity: Women’s Voices in Agenda-Setting Forums”.

Remarks

[1] Literally meaning oppressed and broken, Dalit is a lower caste group in some countries in Southeast Asia.

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization / authors and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author (s). See it in full here.


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