November 29 is globally celebrated as International Women Human Rights Defenders Day! Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the work of these incredible women who keep up the fight to attain equal rights for people from marginalised communities, people with disability, and against anti-human, exploitative policies. Some of these women have even faced State action for relentlessly voicing their dissent and disapproval of its treatment towards minorities. We are grateful for the work of these fearless women! This is, of course, a non-exhaustive list.
1. Soni Sori
Soni Sori is a human rights defender fighting for Adivasi rights, especially the rights of Adivasi women. She has uncovered the human rights violations that have resulted from the conflict between Maoist and government forces.
2. Sudha Bhardwaj
Sudha Bhardwaj is a human rights lawyer with an objective to protect the rights of Adivasi people in Chattisgarh. She has represented Adivasi activists in several cases of extrajudicial executions of Adivasis.
3. Irom Sharmila
Irom Sharmila, also known as Manipur’s Iron Lady, is a human rights activist fighting against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. She went on a nearly 16-years long hunger strike opposing the atrocities that have resulted from this Act.
4. Grace Banu
Grace Banu is the first transgender person in Tamil Nadu to have gotten an Engineering seat. She is an outspoken Dalit and trans rights activist. She is a technologist and founder of the Trans Rights Now Collective.
5. Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal
JNU students Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal are members of Pinjra Tod, a women’s collective. They were charged under the UAPA for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
6. Bilkis Bano
Bilkis Dadi, now an iconic face of the ‘Dadis of Shaheen Bagh’, became a symbol of resistance for the anti-CAA and NRC movement. She braved the cold Delhi winters at the age of 82 saying, “This is for our children.”
7. Shampa Sengupta
Shampa Sengupta is a gender and disability rights activist with over 30 years of experience in working towards her cause. She is also the founder of Sruti Disability Rights Centre.
8. Preeti Singh
Preeti Singh is a young but prominent disability rights activist. She is outspoken about the need for disability-friendly infrastructure as well as debunking the stigma that surrounds people with disability.