Manjula Pradeep was the second daughter born to an orthodox Dalit family in Vadodara. As her father expected a son, her birth was not welcome in the family. Her father blamed her mother for Manjula’s birth and abused both of them physically and mentally since her birth. Outside her home, Manjula was treated as a social outcast because she belonged to a Dalit (lower caste) family. All she really wanted was to free her mother from her abusive father’s grips and to transform the lives of Dalit people, particularly women in her community. Manjula believed that education is the best solution to break free and managed to pursue higher education with great difficulty. In college, she became an outspoken activist representing the issues of gender, caste and class. After her graduation in 1992, Manjula became the first female employee of Navsarjan – an organisation dedicated to empowering Dalits. Manjula gained additional experience on the constant struggles of Dalits during her initial years at Navsarjan. Soon after, she realized that a human rights struggle needed more expertise to generate momentum. Manjula decided to pursue law to increase her skills set. As a lawyer, Manjula then fought fearlessly for the justice of several Dalit women who were victims of gang rape and sexual trafficking.
Threatened by several leaders and politicians, Manjula refused to step back.
Today, Manjula is the Executive director of Navsarjan and continues to train several Dalit activists, defending cases of sexual violence and providing legal support to caste-based issues. Manjula is an epitome of inspiration, having spent her entire life fighting for the rights of Dalit women in India without losing hope.
Manjula Pradeep is also an executive committee member of the International Dalit Solidarity Network. She has represented the Dalit community at the World Conference against racism at the United Nations.
Quote- “I am proud that I am a woman. In my community when a girl is born, people feel uncomfortable. I have made a mark in such a society; have awakened those women who were reluctant to voice their opinions. Now they fight injustice.”