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Celebrating South Asian Activists During Women’s History Month

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” In honor of this motif, Project Stree is shining a spotlight on trailblazing South Asian activists whose stories remain underrepresented in popular media. 

Annie Namala


Namala is a social activist who has campaigned for India’s most marginalized caste, the Dalits, for the past two decades. As part of her advocacy, she founded the Center for Social Equity and Inclusion (CSEI) to advance opportunities for young children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Namala’s work shone during the COVID-19 pandemic when she, through CSEI, provided relief aid, including dry rations, cash support, and healthcare, to disadvantaged Dalit communities. She organized the National Youth Equity Forum (NYEF) to shed light on the plight of rural communities and provide them health assistance during the pandemic. The NYEF facilitated hygiene awareness workshops, educating migrant families on effective health and safety practices. In addition to educating the community, the NYEF connected local migrant families to NGO organizations that could provide them with rations, cash, and immediate access to healthcare. 

Namala showcases the theme of Women’s Month by championing Dalit rights when others, including the state, neglected them. The untold stories of the Dalits motivate her humanitarian efforts.  

Shreen Saroor:

Shreen Saroor, the founder of Women’s Action Network (WAN), is a peace activist and human rights defender. Her work primarily focuses on war-affected women in Sri Lanka’s Muslim and Tamil communities. Her organization advocates for women who are victims of sexual bribery, domestic violence, forced disappearances, and displacement in addition to promoting women’s participation in governance. Saroor worked closely with domestic institutions and has filed multiple court cases for women who lack the resources to seek out legal counsel. Saroor is a vocal critic of various laws, such as Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, which regulates matrimonial law for Muslims and impacts the opportunities available to them. 

Saroor's work highlights the stories of women who are silenced while enduring trauma, violence, and discrimination.

Ayqa Khan:

Ayqa Khan is a first-generation Pakistani-American artist who takes a stand through her artwork. The artwork emphasizes destigmatizing the body hair of South Asian women, which is shown throughout her collection. Khan’s artwork explores the idea of body hair existing outside of where hair is normally found, such as legs, arms etc., and creating homes for hair outside of what is normalized by popular media. Her online archive, SouthAsia.Art is a collective that aims to promote research on South Asian artists. South Asian art and artists are often overlooked, but Khan attempts to make a name for South Asian women in the art sphere. 

Her artwork and initiative make way for South Asian women in the art industry and highlight the generational body-image issues South Asian women face. 

The Women at Project Stree:

Lastly, Project Stree’s blog wants to highlight the incredible women who volunteer at our organization. Read more about each team member on our website. This group of inspiring women takes time from their busy schedules to serve our mission. From late-night zoom calls to creating graphics that appeal to our wide audience, the women at Project Stree spend significant time and effort raising awareness about menstrual health for those who don’t have easy access to this knowledge. 

At Project Stree, we highlight the untold stories of thousands of young girls across India.


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