Ladies and ladies! Have you heard of the Jagrutha Mahila Sanghatane (Conscientized Women’s Collective)? No? Well then, let’s begin at the beginning.
JMS is a collective of Dalit Madiga women who are primarily agricultural labourers.
They work towards social, political, economic empowerment for Madiga women.
JMS is located in the village of Pothnaal, District Raichur, North Karnataka with a severely hot, arid climate.
JMS has been around for 16 years.
Their website speaks for itself:
The district of Raichur, with its feudal history of being part of [the] Nizam state, provided a perfect example for the embodiment of caste-class-patriarchal mix resulting in violence on a Dalit woman and violation of her dignity within and outside her home. Raichur, the drought prone area of the [D]eccan plateau, hailed as the rice bowl of Karnataka, was also home to the most marginalised communities in the state, the Dalit Madigas. A deadly combination of an entrenched caste system including extreme forms of untouchability and patriarchal values was enforced with an iron hand by the feudal landlords belonging to the dominant Veerashaiva (Lingayats) community, who ironically also professed to be followers of Basava Dharma (Religion preached by Basaveshwara based on equality and social justice).
Aha. This question is best answered by JMS themselves. Above is a must-watch documentary in Kannada with English subtitles, released on their 16th anniversary, shot over two years by filmmaker Vijay. It tells tales of extreme caste oppression, gender oppression, bonded labour, child labour. It also tells stories of joy, of struggles for fundamental rights, and the gradual unsilencing of voices. The audience hears from individual Madiga women, JMS workers, and adult learners in the JMS school for children and adults.
Intrigued and want more? Take a look at their blog here.