R. Sowri (India)


… lead the movement to achieve dignity for Dalits


Sowri aged 49 years studied up to 3rd standard, from Mudhur village near Arakkonam in Vellore District of Tamil Nadu, India. Sowri is a mother of two boys and a daughter. Children and her husband are daily laborers.

Sowri is the President of “Dalit People’s Movement” which works against violence, discrimination meted out to Dalits, to achieve land rights, education and Political rights for Dalits.

In the year 1995 the dominant caste men attacked Dalit youths as one of them accidentally touched them while travelling by public transport. Untouchability as a cruel practice is very much prevalent in the villages.  In this incident Dalit youth were attacked and four were critically wounded. The police also did not cooperate with the Dalit community to punish the culprits. Sowri took up this issue with the movement and informed the district administration about the issue and filed a case in the court of law to get justice.

After this her life changed in such a way she started fighting for basic amenities like water in her village and most importantly she started working for dignity of her Dalit community.  She worked with the movement and brought a change in her community stopped menial labour like carrying dead body, manual scavenging etc.  She also started a Self Help Group with 30 women members to initiate economic empowerment activities.

She also fought and got the “boodhan land” the lands that were allotted to Dalits but occupied by dominant caste people.  She has good rapport with Government officials, manages the records at Self Help Group and addresses public meetings on issues of people. She also became the representative of local governance.  All these have got respect for her in the community. The community approaches her to handle issues of basic amenities and violence against women. Though she faces opposition from dominant community she is sure to lead the movement to achieve dignity for Dalits.

She was able to seek justice for victims of  dalit violence. Her presence has made other women to come out to the leadership as a community . She believes in the mobilization of recognise  of dignity , political participation and concerted effort would yield results for an issue. She believes that panjami land rights for dalits,  women are instrumental for women empowerment. She wants the implementing mechanisms for the “property rights of women” to be strengthened. She also asks for 5 acres of agricultural land for landless women agricultural labourers.