The world around us changing, in ways that we don’t fathom. Yes, we are on the path of globalization, where cultural and ethnic boundaries are blurring and more people are becoming aware and offering a helping hand to the people in need all around the world. But there is still a majority of the world so deeply rooted to their cultures that it hinders progress and suppresses some members of their own community. To tackle this we need the local people to be aware of their surroundings and fight injustices.
A women’s group in India is doing exactly but with a twist. They are taking the stereotypical concept of gangsters but reversing what the word gangster stands for. What does it stand for literally? It’s a Hindi word, Gulaabi= pink/rose.
They even have their own official website, where they keep updating everyone on their progress. This is how they describe themselves: ‘The Galati Gang is an extraordinary women’s movement formed in 2006 by Sampat Pal Devi in the Banda District of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. This region is one of the poorest districts in the country and is marked by a deeply patriarchal culture, rigid caste divisions, female
illiteracy, domestic violence, child labor, child marriages and dowry demands. The women’s group is popularly known as Gulabi or ‘Pink’ Gang because the members wear bright pink saris and wield bamboo sticks. Sampat says, “We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice.”
Besides from doing Moral work, they concentrate on economic independence for these women and therefore are looking to venture into this line of work.
They even provide services for weddings. According to them, they provide facilities for a complete wedding within the local community with cost-effective solutions to cater to the modest means of the community. The wedding industry in India is huge and the rural market is an untapped source and provides for a potential opportunity in the field especially for women. Indian wedding industry surpasses others in terms of culture /traditions, especially in Uttar Pradesh where religious ceremonies and rituals are done with great devotion and for long hours. The services will include tailoring bridal trousseau, catering for guests, flower arrangements, henna –make-up application.
Their work hasn’t gone unnoticed and they have been recognized by multiple organizations and have received many awards. Some of them are:
1) Godfrey Phillips Bravery Awards: For the States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi, for the Social Bravery category.
2) The Kelvinator 11th GR8! Women Awards: Is an initiative of The Indian Television Academy, these Awards conferring honor and recognition on Women Achievers from all walks of life, annually. The 2nd Kelvinator award is to be given in Feb. 2012.
They have been recognized worldwide too. There have international publications dedicated to them.
1) A Book by Anne Berthod, “Moi, Sampat Pal, chef de gang en sari rose (I, Sampat Pal, gang leader in a pink sari),” published in France, October 2008. It has been translated in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese
2) The award-winning film, “Pink Saris” by Kim Longinotto, UK, has been screened at several film festivals.
These women may not be the most educated or well spoken, but they have saved lives of thousands of people – not just in their village. They are role models to numerous little girls who grow up in oppressive patriarchal and abusive surroundings. If there were more of these gangs, the world would be a much better place to live in today!