Intersectional feminism is a term coined in 1989 by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate and a law professor, to describe how discrimination based on race, ethnicity, class and gender intersected or overlapped with each other in society. It also explains the varied levels of oppression a woman is subjected to, depending on her social identity. The discussion on intersectional experiences brought to light the narratives of Dalit, tribal and Muslim women in feminist movements in India, which were mainly dominated by privileged women from dominant communities in terms of caste, class and religion.
Several prominent women’s rights activists, journalists, academicians, artists and lawyers from the Dalit-Bahujan and LGBTQIA+ communities have taken the lead in dissecting the feminist discourse, which singularly focused on patriarchy. Such a discussion often clubbed the experiences of women from marginalised or minority communities into a single category, diluting the multi-layered accounts of vulnerabilities the women were exposed to. Through writings, panel discussions, art and on ground advocacy groups, women from the Bahujan and minority communities have taken to the internet to bring forth the issues and violence faced by women of intersectional identities.
Follow these profiles on social media, who explicitly identify themselves as feminists or feminist collectives to know more about feminism and intersectionality:
Image credit: Divya Kandukuri, official Twitter account
Divya Kandukuri is a journalist and co-founder of Blue Dawn, a community support group providing mental health services to the Bahujan communities. Kandukuri’s video for BuzzFeed India sparked a conversation on intersectional feminism on mainstream media and on the internet. Her articles on leading news websites focus on the works of bahujan feminist icons and intersectionality of caste and gender. Kandukuri, who is vocal on Instagram and Twitter about contemporary issues and anti-caste struggles, also provides a resource of book recommendations on the works of bahujan women such as Savitribai Phule, Tarabai Shinde, Fatima Sheikh and Phoolan Devi among others.
Image credit: Riya Singh, official Twitter account
Riya Singh is the co-founder of Dalit Women Fight, a community-led project advocating for Dalit women’s rights and providing grassroots support for Dalit women leading anti-caste struggles and movements. Singh is also a doctoral fellow at the Centre for Women’s Development Studies and identifies herself as a feminist, whose work focuses on women’s rights and the law, Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act. As one of the prominent voices in the spaces discussing Dalit feminism, Singh has, on various platforms, highlighted the gaps in mainstream savarna feminist discourse and the neglect or silence over violence against Dalit women in the country.
Image credit: Nidhi Goyal, official Twitter account
Nidhi Goyal is a comedian, writer and co-founder of Rising Flame, a Mumbai-based organisation working for recognition and protection of rights of disabled persons. Diagnosed with a visual impairment, Goyal lost her eyesight during her teen years. Identifying as a disabled feminist activist she has been actively conducting research and advocacy programmes in the gender and disabilities realm. Goyal’s works focus on highlighting issues of violence inflicted upon disabled women, their rights and experiences of love, sexuality and desires for intimacy.
Image credit: Grace Banu, official Twitter account
One of the most prominent voices in the trans feminism discourse in India, Grace Banu is a Dalit trans rights activits and writer hailing from Tamil Nadu. As someone who has faced discrimination based on caste and gender, Banu’s work defines a fight against not just patriarchy, but Brahmanical patriarchy. From working to provide basic resources necessary for the survival of transgender persons through ground work and raising funds to working with policy makers for the security of trans women, Banu has never been out of action.
A feminist collective based out of Kashmir, Zanaan Wanaan or ‘women speak’ is a digital platform that produces scholarship and records narratives of women’s movement in Kashmir. With an objective to cast a spotlight on the rights of Kashmiri women amid the humanitarian crisis in the region, the collective provides young women a space for activism and expression through art, academia and media discourse. The network regularly conducts discussions, film screenings and workshops on scholarship produced by Kashmiri women, media’s reportage on women’s issues, resistance movements and advocacy on global platforms.
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