Dalit rights activist Manisha Devi receives Ambedkar award for courageous struggle
8 September 2014 New Delhi
Manisha Devi, a 28-year-old Dalit activist from Haryana, was honored with the Ambedkar Award 2014 in Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh yesterday. Manisha has been a fiery and courageous activist for her family, the community, and the nation. She is the state coordinator of the Haryana All India Dalit Mahila AdhikarManch (AIDMAM) of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). The award consists of Rs 50,000, a memento and a citation, and is organized by Friends for Education International (FFEI), a US-based NGO started in 2003 as Ambedkar Scholarships.
“We are delighted that Manisha has been chosen as the recipient of the Ambedkar Award this year. She is an extremely determined, hard working, and courageous woman. Manisha has been an inspiration to several of us involved in defending the rights and strengthening the position of Dalit women in India, and this award recognizes our struggles,” said AIDMAM general secretary Asha Kowtal.
Manisha too faced several hurdles in her life and has overcome several barriers in her family and work life. She has actively supported her single mother who worked so hard to take care of children including Manisha and her three sisters and two brothers.
Manisha’s and her sisters’ education was supported by a Dalit woman named Sumita Katheria, who also bought them two bicycles. The bicycles marked the beginning of her activism as it gave her the freedom to travel through her village. It was then that she began organizing other Dalit women in the village to speak up for themselves and also reached out to victims of sexual violence in the Dalit community.
Manisha has been working with AIDMAM since 2007, and her vision is to build the leadership of Dalit women in Haryana and in the country. She has been at the forefront of the Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra and leads a team of volunteers and young students in Haryana.
Manisha lives in Kurukshetra, Haryana, and is also pursuing her degree in law.
The award committee was chaired by Cynthia Stephen, an independent researcher from Bangalore, and comprised of other members including, Prof Shiva Shankar from Chennai Mathematical Institute, US-based writer, filmmaker and singer Thenmozhi Sounderrajan, Indiana University PhD student and activist Lalith Khandare and Mumbai-based writer, blogger and activist Jayant Pathri.
Manisha is active on social media. Do find her on Facebook: Manisha Devi
For more on Friends for Education International visit: http://friendsforeducation.org/