The dangerous women in our lives

blog 1
May 10, 2019

As I procrastinated on Facebook this morning, I came across this quote by Audre Lorde:

“Women are powerful and dangerous.”

It made me think of all the dangerous women in my life who held my hand and guided me to where I am today – learning how to cultivate revolutionary hope, and more recently, as a fellow at Thousand Currents focused on adolescent girls. These dangerous women include:
My mother who tirelessly held everything together, making things seem so comfortably familiar when all the world was losing its head.

My professor from Maine who showed me what politics was about and how to be fearless in the pursuit of justice. She helped me get my first internship at a radical organization in Mexico, where I spent many months engaged in subversive investigations: trespassing corporate property, taking photos I wasn’t allowed to, almost getting arrested.

The dignified leaders of the Zapatista caracoles in Chiapas who flipped warm tortillas in their kitchens and then walked miles with their babies tied to their backs to lead their local governments.

The young Indian farmer who led revolts against Monsanto, inspiring thousands of farmers to burn GMOs on their fields.

She showed me what solidarity means and how to be in it for the long haul. Despite the cracks forming under our feet, she taught me to search for where the light entered.

She invited me to become a lifetime volunteer at the Indian farmers movement, where I finally found my political home and family. Today, we are collectively nurturing a peasant agroecology school where young people from all social movements can come to learn and dream.

The Gandhian who has spent decades tirelessly defending rural people’s rights, inspiring the urban middle classes to develop solidarity with their struggles. She showed me what it means to serve with love. She taught me to start at where people are, not where I think they should be.

The millions of Dalit women who work other people’s fields while never owning a piece of land to call their own. I’ve been privileged to meet so many who have challenged these unjust systems and fought for dignity.

The widows of farmers who have committed suicide. I remember the one who said, “The man is lucky, he can kill himself to become free. I would never be able to do that to my children. I will have to fight.”

The Marathi teacher from the 19th century whose courage meant that all Indian women, of all castes, could go to school.

There are so many other dangerous women who came before us, and thankfully, those girls who will come after.

Born and raised in India, Ashlesha is the Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. Her background is in learning from and supporting Indian and global farmers’ movements like La Via Campesina for more than ten years. Ashlesha's research work centers on agroecology, peasant movements, public policies, and gender. Ashlesha Khadse