This blog series is part of our celebration of International Women’s Month.
Each piece is written by a Women, Girls & Global Justice intern.
Story by Erin East
The Indian subcontinent is home to many languages, religions, and ethnic groups all with distinct cultures. The northeast part of India in states like Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur are situated with an ongoing conflict between the Naga people and Indians. The Naga people have a distinctive culture and lifestyle and do not feel sufficiently Indian enough to be a part of India as a result. Since India became a country in 1947, there have been many instances of violence and struggle for Nagaland to gain independence.
One woman has dedicated her life to the violence and conflict that plagues northeast India. Roshmi Goswami, born in Assam, India has been involved with activist work from a young age. She attended North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, India where she befriended similar student leaders. The northeast regions of India are divided on tribe and ethnic lines. The distance from the main part of the Indian subcontinent have left them on the fringes of state control and embroiled in conflict.
Goswami focused on grassroots movements in her native northeast India. She has been declared as a feminist pioneer in South Asia for bringing a feminist viewpoint to conflict and representing a voice for women in Assam and Nagaland. She first did this work for the Tezpur District Mahila Samiti, an Assamese grassroots association, and then went on to found her own organization.
Goswami co-founded the Northeast Network, an organization committed to building a society that upholds gender justice, equality, and respect for human rights with a regionally pioneering liberal feminist viewpoint. True to Goswami’s roots, the thematic areas of work are gender-based discrimination and violence against women, governance and state accountability, and natural resource management and livelihoods. The Northeast Network and Goswami have interviewed and documented the impact of war and conflict on the lives of women.
Goswami has worked at the Ford Foundation’s Delhi office, supporting women’s rights in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. She has also worked with the UN Women’s office as the head of Women and Peace in South Asia and was a participating member of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Her more recent work has been as a convener for peace and meditation training for 1000 Peace Women Across the Globe. She is currently a board member at the Urgent Action Fund. Goswami is also a member of Human Rights Ahead and SANGAT, two groups that focus on women’s rights and human rights more generally. She is also a member of the Asia Pacific Women’s Alliance on Peace and Security.
Roshmi Goswami is working with her fellow Indian women to find peace and justice for women and girls in this conflict ravaged area.