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India: Two grassroot Hindu & Muslim women heroes from Mumbai

Word For Peace

Collective Impact Partnership (CIP), a program by 5 organizations working towards women’s rights, health, and leadership. Some of our women leaders have been working towards looking after the most vulnerable communities in Maharashtra during this pandemic.

1. Sabah Khan, Co-Founder, Parcham – Sabah is best known for introducing the football initiative for adolescent girls in Muslim ghettos. She has been a member of the ‘Muslim Women’s Rights’ Network’, a group advocating the rights of Muslim women and Gender Just laws since 1999.As a member, Sabah was responsible for the formulation of the Progressive Nikahnama. She has edited a book of poems ‘Bebaak Qalam’ (Unrestrained Pen) a collection of poems in Urdu on the theme of identity. She is a member of an autonomous feminist collective, Forum Against Oppression of Women. She is currently working as a Consultant to the Transforming M East Ward Project, an action research project of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) that seeks to create a model of inclusive urban development in M East Ward, the poorest municipal ward in Mumbai.

“We are working with an organization to distribute rations to some of the football trainees in Jogeshwari. We are providing support for rations and medicines to those in need in Mumbra. We are transferring money to their account because we don’t want any of our volunteers risking exposure. Some youth who met during the anti CAA protests have set up a lockdown relief helpline. Parcham members are volunteering for that as well. They need Marathi speaking people so spreading the word. TISS has set up a response team where we are working with communities and BMC. We’ve provided rations to 1000 families so far and we have a commitment of another 4000 packets from Art of Living. The school of media studies of TISS is working on community education material that can be circulated via WhatsApp. I am helping with suggestions on the content and with the communities for the ration distribution.”

2. Deepa Pawar, Founder & Director, Anubhuti: Deepa Pawar is the founder and director of Anubhuti, a young women-led organization working for equity, justice, and democracy. A member of a vulnerable nomadic tribe, Deepa began working as a social activist when she was 14 years old. She has spent nearly two decades working with women, communities, NGOs, and state and local governments on issues of gender, health, rights, community development, and sanitation. Deepa is a core team member of the nationally and internationally acclaimed Right to Pee campaign, a grassroots, young women-led initiative for safe, accessible, and dignified public toilets for women, girls, trans persons, and the disabled.

“We are identifying the most vulnerable families in our working areas who are from tribal, nomadic tribe, single women headed households, etc. Tribal or adivasi as the communities are called in India and nomadic tribes to which I also belong – are the most extremely marginalized communities in India. They have lost all livelihood in the nation-wide lockdown and in the last few days all meagre resources have dried up. We are looking at reaching about 50 families with:

1. Distributing food & other essential items to the most vulnerable households

2. Helping with rent money for selected households who would otherwise be homeless by next month

3. Scholarships for young women from the above-mentioned backgrounds, whose education will be the first long-term casualty once this crisis is over”.

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