India: Kavita Srivastava

Kavita Srivastava believes that village women, coming together, can articulate their problems and find solutions. More than a million village women have proven her belief to be true.

— Kavita Srivastava

For two decades Kavita Srivastava, who was born in 1962, has been promoting, collectively with other social groups, nonviolent ways of ensuring justice to survivors of atrocities committed due to gender, class, caste, religious group or nationality. Her accomplishments include work with the women’s movement in Rajasthan, which has initiated laws against widow burning and national guidelines against violence against women. She also succeeded in taking the "Right to Food" issue to the Supreme Court in 2001. She is the national secretary of the Union for Civil Liberties.

Kavita Srivastava is a full-time human rights activist working to protect people's democratic and constitutional rights and to work towards justice in instances of violations of people's rights. The most prominent social injustice and violence committed against people by the state is widespread hunger amidst people and the denial of food and employment to the poor. There exists the paradoxical situation of drought and the breakdown of food distribution systems and surplus food grains in government warehouses. In 2001 Kavita took the "Right to Food" issue to the Supreme Court. This became the most significant food litigation in democratic India. The court has passed significant decrees relating to deaths from hunger, children’s nutrition, social security for the vulnerable, the public distribution system, and the system of redressing grievances. Kavita started working in 1984, bringing village women together to draw up platforms at the village level for collective articulation of their problems, analysis and the search for solutions. This pioneering work was carried out by a very large collective under the name of the Women's Development Program. More than a million women became involved in creatively denouncing their problems, whether they related to the payment of minimum wages, or domestic violence, or rape, or widow burning. The new central law against the glorification of widow burning and the Supreme Court Guidelines for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace were both initiated by the Rajasthan women's movement. Since 1994 Kavita has been promoting the formation of citizens’ collectives to protect the civil liberties and democratic rights of every citizen. She is also part of a larger effort of bringing about nuclear disarmament and peace in South Asia, and campaigning for mine clearance.

People's Union for Civil Liberties