(Dalit Women’s Self- Respect Long March)
17th February 2014 to13th March, 2014
Dalit1 Mahila Swabhiman Yatra (DMSY) was organised by All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, a movement initiated by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) (www.ncdhr.org.in). NCDHR is a forum committed to the elimination of discrimination based on caste. A democratic secular platform led by Dalit women and men activists, with support and solidarity from movements and organizations, academics, individuals, people’s organizations and institutions throughout the country who are committed to work to protect and promote human rights of Dalits focusing on women and children.
DMSY is yet a significant step in the independent assertions of Dalit Women in India. It is a step forward for dignity. A step forward for self respect!
……. ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of the human personality.”
– Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar
Dalit women across villages, towns and cities across India have been resisting discrimination and violence for centuries. At every step, Dalit women have faced severe and multiple forms of exclusion and violence. The onslaught of Brahmanical and caste Hindu forces has trampled mercilessly over the bodies and lives of Dalit women. Inflicting violence has been the key instrument in this conspiracy. A kind of violence that takes away not just lives and limbs, but kills the core of the human being. Strips her of dignity and self respect.
It is the same history that also gives rise to several Dalit women activists who have risen to build the struggle for self respect and dignity. The fierce young women are the force behind the assertions and the struggles. They are the spark. They are the true revolution.
The impact of this Yatra has been far reaching. Scores of volunteers, new Dalit women leaders in every district, involvement of university students and committed young men and women from the community are surging ahead with great energy and conviction.
Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra was about a month long journey of Dalit activists who carried the burning flames and reached out to the community. This journey allowed Dalit women to delve into the insights of the community, dip into the strength of the elders, learn, teach and grow into a stronger force.
The Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra commenced on 17th February 2014 from Kurukshetra and ended on 12th March, 2014 at New Delhi. The DMSY covered Utter Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Maharashtra during 24 days yatra.
- Dalit is a designation for a group of people traditionally regarded as untouchable. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of numerous social groups from all over India; they speak a variety of languages. Majority of Dalits have converted to Buddhism after mass conversion held in October 1956 at Nagpur, Maharashtra, India under the leadership of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
Published in Issue V, April 2014