Trupti Shah (1962 to 2016)

A Feminist Way of Life

Trupti Shah, feminist and environmentalist, lived her life to the fullest embodying her belief that the feminist perspective is not an ideology but a way of life.

Trupti Shah, a leading human rights and environmental activist, founder of Sahiyar, a women’s rights organisation in Vadodara, Gujarat dedicated to feminism and secular humanism passed away on 26 May 2016 after a valiant battle against lung cancer. She was a great champion of gender concerns such as declining sex ratio, violence against women and girls, rights of women in the informal sector, sexual harassment at workplace; environmental and livelihood concerns of poverty groups and farmers; democratic rights of Dalits, tribals and religious minorities. Her doctorate in economics from M S University in Vadodara was on “Economic Status of Women in Urban Informal Sector—A Study of Baroda City.” She took a keen interest in the cultural expression of women’s rights through songs, street theatre, poetry, posters, music ballets and folk forms. She also helped train members of Sahiyar to perform in these expressions. Her training as a Bharata Natyam dancer as a schoolgirl came in handy for this. Trupti was also a successful trainer and orator, who spoke with lucidity and in a persuasive style,

The egalitarian ethos of the Marxist ideology attracted her as much as the simplicity of the Gandhian lifestyle adopted by her parents and her feminist heritage came from her Gandhian mother. When Trupti was born, her mother, Suryakantaben Shah who was working in the remand home at Vadodara gained fame for her fight for maternity leave of three months and the matter had reached right up to the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

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