Madhavi Kuckreja

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004


This profile was prepared when Madhavi Kuckreja was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
Madhavi’s organization, Vanangana, is operating in Chitrakoot, UP,—a caste-dominated, pilgrimage site. Madhavi is combating the grave and pervasive problem of violence against women by making Dalit women an important part of village development and thus ensuring their safety as well as an influential position in the social ladder. This change in a woman’s role in society, essentially affected by developmental needs, is then ingeniously used to address issues like gender-based discrimination, sexual abuse, caste-based atrocities, untouchability, and domestic violence.
By creating platforms that allow women from the higher castes and the lower Dalit castes to interact with each other, Vanangana enables them to identify common problems, confront them through collective action, and demonstrate the impact to the entire community. In all efforts to access justice, she allows leadership to emerge from within the communities. Working strictly within the socioeconomic framework, she is uncompromising about the judicial system, and promotes a multilayered application of the law, which cuts across social hierarchies.
Madhavi believes that women’s empowerment needs to happen at the same pace as development, for unless both processes happen simultaneously social changes can never be achieved. To ensure synergistic progress, she is establishing violence against women as a serious development issue in the context of political action and state response and is working in partnership with the entire state development machinery.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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