Everybody has a right to live a dignified life. But ,due to many societal forces and heinous crimes, people are being forced into living a life that is not even respectful. For example : The Indian women have always been an epitome of beauty, strength, and intelligence. Today, the success of Indian women across various walks of life has proven that they have earned this reputation very deservingly.
Below given is the list of several human rights activists who, have devoted their lives toward uplifting people of lower strata to ensure that they are given all opportunities to live their life with dignity. Even though , there still remains a lot of work to be done, there is no ignoring the fact that a lot of progress has been made because of the relentless efforts made by human right activists from time to time.
- Sunitha Krishnan : She has always been the one to stand up for and help everyone out in anyway possible. A rape survivor and a social worker, Krishnan found her life’s purpose in rescuing victims of sex trafficking and finding a respectable place for them in the mainstream society. Her passion for social work became manifested when, at the age of 8 years, she started teaching dance to mentally challenged children. By the age of 12, she was running schools in slums for underprivileged children.At the age of 15, Krishnan was gang raped by eight men, while working on a neo-literacy campaign for the Dalit community.This incident served as the impetus for what she is doing today. Instead of breaking down due to the rape, recovered from the incident and co-founded Prajwala, an NGO in Hyderabad that rescues women from prostitution and offers education to their children. It stands on five pillars: prevention, rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and advocacy A recipient of the Padma Shri award, she has saved over 12,000 women and children till date. Because of this,she’s been hit multiple times, pushed, threatened to be killed. But still, she stands firmly and became more stronger for these attacks.She further created various movies to raise awareness of sex trafficking in India.
- Sampat Pal Devi – Sampat Pal Devi is the founder of ‘Gulabi Gang’ dedicated to fight for equal socio-economic, cultural and political rights for women and their work ranges from interventions in child marriages, and spreading awareness against dowry, providing training in self defense to women, amongst others. She started Gulabi Gang with a group of women from her village to fight various forms of social injustice. Their official website reads- “rural women in pink sarees, wielding bamboo sticks in pursuit of justice”. This developed into an organized women’s movement with tens of thousands of members spread over several districts in Uttar Pradesh. She is also familiarized as a Big Boss 6 contestant.
- Indira Jaising – Jaising was the first woman to be appointed as an Additional Solicitor General of India in 2009.She is the foremost feminist, activist and lawyer and her tireless work has been instrumental in the framing of the Domestic Violence Act (2005) and her most recent accolades include a major victory in Priya Pillai’s case where the High Court ruled that the state cannot muzzle disagreement. With a thorough grasp over the law, she can take down just about anyone who might pose a threat to the rights enjoyed by women in India. Ms Jaising dedicated her life to fighting for the cause of human rights and founded Lawyers Collective , a human rights organization, with her husband Anand Grover in 1981.
- Arundhati Roy is an author, actress, and political activist. She has been trained as an architect, but had little interest in design and dreamt instead of a writing career , so she is also, best known for her award-winning novel ,The God of Small Things (1997) .She is also known for her involvement in environmental and human rights causes.She has campaigned along with activist Medha Patkar against the Narmada dam project. .She was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Award in 2002, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004, and the Sahitya Akademi Award from the Indian Academy of Letters in 2006.
- Shanta Sinha : An anti-child labour activist of international repute and presently in her second term as Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). Known for her pioneering work in child rights, she is the founder of the MV Foundation. She proved instrumental in abolishing child labour in Andhra Pradesh’s Ranga Reddy district where over 2.5 lakh children were introduced to their fundamental right to elementary education. A Professor in the Department of Political Science, Hyderabad Central University, she won the 2003 Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership. She has also been awarded the Padma Shri and the Albert Shankar International Award from Education International. So, she is an amazing woman who is tireless in her efforts to rescue children from abuse and safeguard the right of every child to be well-educated, free, and happy.
- Aruna Roy It was due to her persistence and hard work that the Right to Information, the Right to Work (the NREGA), and the Right to Food Acts were passed and further, she is best known for her efforts to fight corruption and promote government transparency. She always aimed to become a civil servant and cleared the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) examination in 1967.
She is known as a prominent leader of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), a social and grassroots organization for the empowerment of workers and peasants. . She always worked for the vulnerable sections of the society.
She has received various awards for her service to the society, such as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership in 2000, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration, Academia and Management in 2010. In 2011, Aruna was named as one of the ‘100 most influential people across the world’ by Time Magazine
- Medha Patkar is a social reformer turned politician. Born in Mumbai, Medha had a keen interest in public service at a very early age. Patkar is an MA in Social Work from Tata Institute of Social Science and left her position from the faculty and without completing her PhD ,she became completely involved in the tribal and peasant communities in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. She is best recognised as the founding member of the famous Narmada Bachao Andolan – a movement to save the rivers and people of Gujarat.
- Lakshmi Agarwal An acid attack survivor, Lakshmi Agarwal became an activist after she was attacked with acid by a group of men in 2005 because she had rejected one of the men’s advances. She is director of the Chhanv Foundation, an NGO that fights for the cause of acid attack victims in India. She gained widespread appreciation for campaigning against acid attacks and gathering 27,000 signatures for Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to curb the sale of acid, which led the Supreme Court to order central and state governments to regulate the sale of acid and the Parliament to make justice more accessible for acid attack victims. In 2014, Laxmi received the International Women of Courage award from First Lady of the US, Michelle Obama, and was also named NDTV Indian of the Year in 2014.
So, Kudos to all the above inspiring and fierce personalities who have made this possible with their incessant efforts in fighting the forces of patriarchy. The women activists listed above, have played a significant role in changing many social evils and have been a shining beacon of hope and also, displayed exemplary devotion in their respective fields.