Anubhuti’s Founder Deepa Pawar has just been announced the winner in the ‘Most Promising Individual’ Category in the 5th Martha Farrell Award, held yesterday in New Delhi. The awards are given out in memory of Martha Farrell, a well-known feminist activist who lost her life in an attack while working in Afghanistan. Deepa was selected in a rigorous process from 66 applications from all over India. This was for her work at the intersections of caste, gender and mental justice as perhaps the only such work being done with the nomadic and de-notified tribes, by a woman from the same community.

We thank and appreciate Martha Farrell Foundation for reaching and acknowledging grass root women leaders. As this year’s winners show, the awards have acknowledged nomadic tribe, bahujan, minority religious, LGBTIQ and other minority representatives.

Being and working as a feminist in the grassroot, as a woman from a marginalized identity, is that much more challenging. Firstly, their feminist work is invariably intersectional – also having to contend with other pillars of Patriarchy such as caste and religion.

Secondly, the kind of intersectional, anti-caste, anti-fascist, anti-discrimination work that Deepa has been building over 20 years, is not just a fight against the status quo but becomes a cause for social insecurity and even criminalization. Such work does not even translate to financial security. In these realities, proceeding as a feminist is not the same for everyone – the risks and threats depend on one’s social location. The push back is a lot more severe, with much lesser avenues of support systems and access to justice – in the case of women from minority identities. This is even more pronounced when the vulnerable are being targeted much more by majoritarian political forces.

In this context, we are incredibly proud of Deepa and the other winners who are relentlessly committed to the feminist cause despite more pronounced risks.