Friday Hoyden: Ela Bhatt (recovered)

This is a recovered copy of a post lost in our server meltdown. Sadly we don’t have the comments.

“I have often stated that poverty is violence. This violence is by consensus of society that lets other human beings go without roti and kapada and makan. Poverty is not God-given. It is a moral collapse of our society. Poverty strips a person of his or her humanity and takes away freedom. Poverty is day-to-day violence, no less destructive than war. Poverty is lack of peace and freedom. In fact, removing poverty is essentially building peace.”

International Women’s Day could not have a better Friday Hoyden than Ela Bhatt.

A member of the international social activist organisation The Elders, Bhatt comes from India, where she received the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2011. Here you can read her acceptance speech, entitled “Women, Work and Peace”, which outlines what she terms the “100 mile principle”:

“I would urge us to ensure that six basic primary needs are met from resources within 100 miles around us. I call it the ’100 mile principle’. If food, shelter, clothing, primary education, primary healthcare and primary banking are locally produced and consumed, we will have the growth of a new holistic economy, that the world will sit up and take note of.”

In this speech she also speaks of the nature of productive labour and the invisible work of women, but really there is so much good stuff in it, and in her other writing at this site, that it is better to go and read the whole thing.

Bhatt was founder of the Self Employed Women’s Association in India, and of India’s first women’s bank. She works at the heart of current campaigns to end child marriage and ensure that girls are given an education and the chance to live their lives as full human beings. For me, she encapsulates everything that we would hope International Women’s Day would be about.
Ela Bhatt via The Elders

Categories: ethics & philosophy

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