“Vulnerability goes much beyond poverty”

– opening statement by Deepa Pawar, representing the NT-DNT voice at the DPF 2023. She read excerpts from her book of stories of NT-DNT women she interviewed across Maharashtra.

Deepa spoke at the “Dasra Philanthropy Forum 2023 – Rebuilding India” in California, on “Leading from the Margins – An Intersectional Perspective”. This was on 18th May. As the opening speaker, she highlighted the context of NT-DNT communities towards building international understanding of the same. She was also a panelist with several other impactful leaders on the impact of climate change on nomadic and Adivasi communities.

Excerpts from her speech:

“Dishonor is what we are made to feel commonly – but we need to proudly and confidently assert our identity because we are not responsible for our situation today. There are many powerful systems, such as #caste, #dominantreligion, #capitalism that have marginalized us.

When the privileged are in trouble, everyone from their friends, bystanders and the Administration & political system wish to see them safe. When communities like mine are in danger, no one is concerned, and we are even blamed as deserving the harm.

When I set up my NGO, I found no one like me here. Everyone came from a certain amount of privilege, from a certain elite circle. On the other hand, many leaders like me leave the sector after giving up a lot more and yet fighting a losing battle against the very high odds.

Asking us grassroot NGOs out sustainability plans is unjust because we are fighting for our own sustenance. Intellectual development doesn’t translate to financial development.

Our sustainability is possible only when donors & philanthropists shoulder part of the responsibility”