I was born in a large joint family of more than a hundred members, with illiterate parents, who were marginal farmers. Like many women in the early fifties, I faced hurdles in my life, and completed High School, majoring in Sanskrit. I used to walk about 10 km a day to go to school. I did my graduation with the subjects Politics, history and English literature and completed my post-graduation in political science.
I am an atheist and atheism is a way of life for me.
I migrated to the State capital in search of a job and after some petty private jobs, joined the Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission in 1979, as an Office Assistant. Iwas an active member of the Andhra Pradesh NGO Association and successfully procured Government orders extending maternity leave from 90 days to 120 days. In 1995, after taking the competitive examination, I was appointed as a Tahasiladar.
Since the eighties I have been participating and contributing my inputs in many National Level Women Conferences and Women Studies Conferences.
I have been actively participating on various issues pertaining to women and among them was the formation of a dowry death committee in the 1980s which has been a milestone in the crusade against the loopholes in law, dowry harassments, dowry deaths, equal pay for equal work, price raise, equal job opportunities, issues concerning single women and many other such crucial issues. The A.P women raised their voices alongside fellow Indian women against gender discrimination. In the process, the women activists paved way for the emergence of many women centered NGOs which advocated the cause of women by way of counseling, training, capacity building, networking, research, documentation, women’s studies etc.,
Another milestone has been the active involvement and participation in various movements and agitations that have occurred in the State. The first one is about the anti-arrack movement in Andhra Pradesh, grown out of the inspiration gained by women in adult literacy classes. In 1992, women of Dubagunta village in Nellore, one of the poor drought prone districts of Southern Andhra Pradesh, organized an agitation to force the closure of the arrack (liquor) shops in that village and this movement spread to all parts of Andhra Pradesh. The experience, however, gave the women’s groups in Andhra Pradesh new confidence and power to check the alcohol abuse by men in their families, and to prevent domestic violence by alcoholic husbands. I was part of this important movement and visited the villages along with the Anveshi team and wrote a report in the first issue of Bhumika.
I was part of starting the first feminist bulletin ‘LOHITHA’ in 1989 in Telugu, which ran successfully for two years.
In 1993, the first feminist magazine in Andhra Pradesh, Bhumika ‘Streevada Patrika’, was started with the help of Anveshi Research Centre for Women Studies. Since then I have been its founder editor. It is a long standing journal of its kind with a circulation of 5,000 and readership of more than 20,000.
The bridging of knowledge from the macro to micro level through articles on women’s issues, the translation of papers/articles from English to Telugu on feminism or feminist theory, and connecting it to lived realities of women’s lives is key factor with potential for promoting gender equality.
Streevada Patrika aspires:
Camps with Women Writers:
I regularly organize camps for women writers in different places with a very significant issue each time. So far three trips have been organized with 40 eminent Telugu women writers. In one such trip, we went to one of the tribal villages where 11 tribal women were gang raped by the police and interacted with these women. Another trip was to Gangavaram Port, Polavaram Dam where we met with women who were displaced due to a developmental project initiated by the government.
In the year 2000, I resigned from my government service to devote my entire time to Bhumika, working without any remuneration and since then my journey has been totally dedicated towards the issues pertaining to women and reaching out to all through my writing.
In March 2006, the first Women Helpline was launched in A.P., sponsored by Oxfam India with a Toll Free No. 1800 425 2908, operated from Hyderabad with counsellors handling about fifty telephone calls from women in distress due to sexual harassment, domestic violence, dowry harassment and all other problems of women. These calls are received from all over the world through phone and emails. Bhumika Helpline gave counselling to and solved problems of more than 12,000 women by way of providing psychological counselling, arranging meetings with lawyers for approaching the courts and alerting police to rescue women in distress and due to this, the Helpline number has been a known number to all. Through this effort we were able to provide support and rehabilitate women in distress through our network and advocacy activities with various government departments and civil society organizations.
I have regularly been writing on the various issues regarding women inA.P. for the last three decades by contributing to magazine and newspaper columns.
So far I have published two short story collections, namely Aame Kala and Melakuva Sandarbham.
List of Awards:
My journey, in the women’s movement, started three decades agoand I still am playing my innings with another major milestone on condemning the move at national level on the proposed amendment of 498A by one of the Committee members at Rajya Sabha and still the journey continues.
I have great faith in the rural women of this country who are fighting against the so called ‘Development Model’ which is displacing them from their homes, fields and from their livelihoods. I am getting involved with them in so many places and getting inspiration from them to continue my journey in the women’s movement. Now, I am 57, and half of my life went into working with women’s issues and women’s movement and I still wish to work for the same till my last breath. My dream is to create a violence-free home and society for all women.