A Foot in the Door is the culmination of research undertaken in the rural panchayats of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, and brings the voices of Dalit women to the fore. The authors examine the patriarchal and caste-based barriers to Dalit women’s political participation in Panchayati Raj, and make it clear that without a more holistic approach, the panchayats will only continue to reinforce existing and undeniably violent hierarchies of caste and gender.
Dalit women’s political participation remains a risky endeavour, and involves very little actual transfer of power. Getting ‘a foot in the door’ is not enough – the affirmative action that secures a Dalit woman’s right to enter the panchayats still, more often than not, silences them in the process of seeking active participation.
An essential read for feminist and Dalit scholars working on issues of gender, caste and political participation, A Foot in the Door argues that there is a need for deep, systemic change at every level of governance.
About the Authors: JAYSHREE P. MANGUBHAI is a lawyer and researcher who has worked for over 20 years in the fields of human rights and development across South Asia and the Pacific. She has focused on a range of social issues, including equality and social inclusion, intersectional discrimination and violence, rights-based development and access to justice for marginalised communities, especially Dalits and Adivasis.
ALOYSIUS IRUDAYAM S.J. is an experienced grassroots activist and a trainer on social issues. He has co-authored several rights-based advocacy research and publications which have been used for national and international advocacy and lobbying purposes. His commitment to Dalit Rights has led him to, among other forums, UN Treaty Body meetings in Geneva, and UN World Social Forums in India and Brazil.
EMMA SYDENHAM is a passionate human rights and social justice advocate, with nearly 20 years of Australian and international experience in the law, legal analysis and policy development, research, advocacy, coalition-building and management. Emma focuses in particular on systemic change to shift trajectories for children experiencing vulnerability.