India has received independence from the British colonization for many years now. Things have changed since 1947, but what is of concern even today is the women’s position in the society. Besides, there is still discrimination on the basis of race, caste, creed and gender. Patriarchy as a practice has always been a part of the Indian society. To bring an end to the poor position of women, Jaya Arunachalam has been struggling with all her might since the last three decades.
She was born to a Brahmin family and was disturbed by the fact that she was not allowed to play with the lower caste children. She raised various questions regarding the discrimination brought based on caste and creed.
After facing such discrimination several times in her life, she started informal organisation called Working Women’s Forum in the city of Madras in the year 1978. She helped the underprivileged women with financial stability. Providing economic independence to the women is forum’s foremost motto. They created an informal working sector for bead workers, washerwomen, fisherwomen, silk weavers and silkworm growers. When the bank executives found it humorous to assist small scale business projects with small loans, Arunachalam and her group started a cooperative started providing small loans to these women. She sat back in slum seeing the unemployment of the educated and poor living conditions of the women and decided to help them out in every way possible.
She has also been an activist of the making inter-caste marriages legal. She says that it is necessary so that the women who are abandoned can make a plea for alimony. She proudly claims that the women of her organisation have emerged to be leaders in all way possible. They are now lawyers and advocates fighting for the rights of other needy women. Arunachalam has recently received an award at Kennedy Centre from Vital Voices Global Partnership. In the ceremony she claimed that this honour was vested on all 70,000 women whose vision has enabled her to bring social justice and financial security to the women of this nation!