Srilatha Batliwala has worked in the field of gender equality and social justice for over thirty years since graduating with her Masters of Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Science in Bombay in 1975.
While Srilatha’s early work was based in India, since the mid-1990s, she has primarily worked abroad, including as a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation, a prominent private organisation founded to advance social justice, based in New York, and as a research fellow at Harvard University’s Hauser Centre for Nonprofit Organisations, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Srilatha is currently a Scholar Associate with the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID). AWID is an international organisation that is committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women’s human rights. Srilatha has been with AWID since 2007.
Srilatha is also a published author on a range of women’s issues. Her recent AWID publications include “Changing Their World – Concepts and Practices of Women’s Movements” and “Capturing Change in Women’s Realities” – a feminist critique of current monitoring and evaluation approaches.
Srilatha is well-known for her work in large-scale grassroots women’s empowerment movements such as the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and Mahila Samakhya, the Indian government’s programme for the education and empowerment of women in rural areas, particularly of women from socially and economically marginalised groups.
Srilatha continues to serve on the board of a number of Indian and international organisations and is now living and working from her home in Bangalore.
Srilatha spoke passionately and warmly about what she considers to be the gains and losses in the women’s rights movement in India to an audience of approximately 70 people at the Indian Social Institute on Friday afternoon.
Srilatha closed her presentation with the following, pertinent quote:
“Work with us, not for us. We are the most important activists in the struggle for our rights, for equality in our families, communities, villages. And in this struggle, at first, you must walk in front of us, showing us where we could go; then, walk beside us, so we know you’re still there if we stumble or fall; but finally, you must learn to walk behind us.”
Sundaramma, Mahila Sangha leader, Kudalgi village, Bidar District, 1992