Six Dalit Women Authors We Should Celebrate This Women's Day

These Dalit women authors have been crucial to the dialogue of intersectional feminism that turns the gaze towards multilayered gender discrimination.

Tanvi Akhauri
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dalit women authors
Feminism lies at an intersection of marginalised identities. Dalit women authors are driving forces behind this crucial dialogue, establishing through the written word that empowerment can never be monotoned. Through their pioneering works that span years, languages and experiences, these authors have expounded intricate realities of what it means to be a Dalit and a woman in India.

From last century greats like Babytai Kamble to new-age scribes like Yashica Dutt, India's foremost Dalit women authors have kept alive the legacy of fighting back against casteism through the ages. While their presence in and contribution to literature deserves recognition everyday, marking the inspiring reclamation of their identity takes on a whole new meaning of empowerment on Women's Day.

Dalit Women Authors Who Make For Essential Reading:

1. Bama 

Bama Faustina Soosairaj, known to readers as Bama, is a social activist, writer and teacher who holds wide credibility and influence as a chronicler of Dalit experiences. Her works mirror her persona that stands for advocacy for women's rights and equality. She has spent the better part of her life in service of the upliftment of economically weak sections, particularly through education of poor girls. Karukku, her autobiography, and novel Sangati are some of her best-read books.

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2. Babytai Kamble 

Babytai Kamble is a prominent Dalit writer who spearheaded the intersectional feminist movement in India during the 20th century through her writing. She is recognised for her distinct style of chronicling the lived Dalit female experience, with gender and caste both forming the crux of her works. Her autobiography Jina Amucha, written in Marathi and translated to English as The Prisons We Broke, is a deep reflection of her existence as an 'untouchable' in an upper-caste Hindu dominant society.

3. Kumud Pawde 

Dr Kumud Pawde played a key role in organising the National Federation of Dalit Women, which activist Ruth Manorama founded. Pawde is notable as the first Ambedkarite scholar of Sanskrit and her erudition in the historically 'upper-caste' language marked a crucial reclamation of caste rights. She even headed the Sanskrit department at a government college in Amravati. She believes in the power of Dalit women leading Ambedkar's manavmukti - people's liberation - movement.


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4. Yashica Dutt 

Yashica Dutt is a writer and journalist with an active social media presence that she dedicates in large part towards generating awareness about the stronghold of caste and inequality in India. Her memoir Coming Out As Dalit is a powerful statement on the realities of casteism in the 21st century, tracing her personal journey of living behind a concealed Dalit identity to fit in, to growing into the consciousness that instilled pride in her selfhood. The book won the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar in 2021.

5. Urmila Pawar 

Urmila Pawar's contribution to Marathi literature is significant in terms of caste dialogue interspersed with gender narratives. She is one of the most influential &t=321s">Dalit feminist authors of contemporary times, with the book she co-authored with Meenakshi Moon in 2008, We Also Made History, considered seminal in the way it imparted value to Dalit women having agency over their own stories. She has been a part of many Dalit feminist conferences and empowerment efforts for the oppressed.

6. Meena Kandasamy 

Meena Kandasamy is a novelist, poet and translator, known for her sharp and honest critique of caste discrimination in India. She has a wide following on social media, which gives space for impactful discussions on caste atrocities and gender inequality to take shape. Kandasamy is making written works of Dalit experiences accessible to vast audiences through English translations. She has also acted in a Malayalam film titled Oraalppokkam.

Babytai Kamble Bama dalit women authors meena kandasamy Women's Day