Meet the woman whose organization works for the uplifting of nomadic and denotified tribes in Maharashtra


Deepa Pawar founded Anubhuti Charitable Trust in 2015 when she realized she wanted to work for the betterment of nomadic and denotified tribes within the marginalized section.

Originally from the Lohar tribe of Rajasthan, Deepa’s family and a few other families migrated to Maharashtra in the late 1980s. His tribe still faces several social barriers due to lack of education, income security and awareness.

While most of her tribe are unable to get a basic education, Deepa’s determination to educate herself and her interest in studying pushed her to work at the age of 14. Two decades of work in the social sector, scholarships and degrees later, she has won several awards, including the recent Martha Farrell Award for the most promising Individual category.

Deepa Pawar during one of her workshops at Anubhuti Trust

Tribal background

“We weren’t aware of education. My father studied to grade four or five and my mother could hardly read on her own initiative. I completed the seventh standard in a public school somehow. But there was no school after the seventh grade in our area. You had to go to a semi-private school to continue your education and spending 700 to 800 rupees on a girl’s education was a challenge for my community in the late 1990s, ”says Deepa. HerStory.

To continue her education, Deepa had to take on several menial jobs in order to afford the tuition fees.

“That’s when I found an NGO that was looking for a girl my age to teach young children and women living in the slums of the city. I joined them and that’s how my intellectual literacy journey began, ”she says.

Finding your vocation with Anubhuti Trust

Anubhuti means to experience, to empathize, and not just to sympathize, Deepa says of the name of the trust which comes from Buddhist philosophy. He works for the advancement of young people in tribal and migrant communities in different parts of the suburbs and slums of Mumbai.

I realized that my identity was much more marginalized as a Bahujan woman. This is because I come from a nomadic migrant tribe. Many communities suffer from poverty, but my tribe has not seen poverty eradicated for generations. There are no resources or awareness to tackle social ills like gender-based violence or injustice

Prior to starting Anubhuti, Deepa worked extensively with youth, women, communities, NGOs, colleges, as well as local and state governments on issues of gender, health, rights, leadership, mentoring, community development, sanitation, etc. throughout Maharashtra. The 35-year-old created the very first documenting book Gadiya Lohar manufacture of weapons and iron tools of the nomadic tribe.

Deepa, who is based in Badlapur in Thane district of Maharashtra, shares what prompted her to set up Anubhuti Trust despite a successful career in the social sector: “In 2010-11, after working in the social sector for a decade, I realized that my identity was much more marginalized as a Bahujan woman. This is because I come from a migrant nomadic tribe. Many communities suffer from poverty, but my tribe has not seen poverty eradicated for generations. There are no resources or awareness to tackle social ills like gender-based violence or injustice, ”she said.

Deepa during a field training session

According to Deepa, she realized that despite her work in the social sector, she was unable to reach her own community.

“It took me a few years to understand my vocation and when I couldn’t go any further, I left my job in the NGO I was working for at the time and registered my organization. She adds.

At Anubhuti, Deepa is currently involved in visioning, project design, training, module creation, networking and advocacy.

Some of the areas Deepa works in include mental justice – an intersection with social security and justice – women’s empowerment, leadership training, sexual and reproductive health rights and safe higher education, among others. .

Deepa is also the 2018 UC Berkeley Tell Her Story Grand Prize Winner and was a finalist for the 2018 CII Foundation Women Exemplar Award.

Edited by Affirunisa Kankudti


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