Promote Dalit leadership to access social justice

The sustainable way for any social equality is for communities to take ownership of their own issues. Once a community is actively involved in strengthening the social justice system, their efforts can bring about a change in the services and mindsets of service providers. However, there’s an absence of leadership opportunities, especially for marginalised communities, in the development sector.

Raising awareness and the social mobilisation of target communities through campaigns and the dissemination of information is an integral part of the Tata Trusts approach. The Trusts seek to support fellowships to build leadership in marginalised communities, which helps to include them into the larger societal framework. CORO, the Trusts’ implementation partner, launched a Leadership Development Programme especially tapping marginalised communities for potential leaders.

The programme has fostered over 1,000 grassroots leaders who impact 1.6million people from these excluded communities.

The Dalit Foundation is a non-governmental organisation, and the first grant-making institution in south Asia working for the empowerment of the Dalit community. The Trusts support a Fellowship and most of the 448 Fellows supported by the Trusts (as of September 2018), are Dalits who go on to work in their own communities, in regions which rank low in the Human Development Index. Nearly 70 per cent of them have established their own organisations to seek justice for their communities.

Fellows from the Dalit Foundation led a protest undertaken by 276 families engaged in manual scavenging. Their concerted action forced a promise of quick action from the concerned authorities. Similarly, an intervention by Fellows who are now leaders in the Dalit community helped set-up an enquiry commission to investigate the displacement of safai karmachari families at the Nakhighat slum in Varanasi. They sent complaints to the central government authorities and human rights commissions.

This initiative has helped build confident leaders from marginalised communities and given voice to communities that have traditionally been excluded from the larger sphere of civil society.


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