Rita Banerji is an author and feminist activist from India.
She is the founder and director of the international, award-winning, grassroots campaign, The 50 Million Missing Campaign that has been working since 2006 to stop the female genocide (gendercide) in India. The 50 Million Missing Campaign was selected as a finalist for the 2013 Katerva Award in the Gender Equality Category. The Katerva Award highlights the most ground-breaking projects from around the world and has been referred to as “the Nobel Prize of Sustainability.” The campaign won the Katerva Awards’ People’s Choice Honorable Mention. The 50 Million Missing has also been nominated for The Shorty Awards which honors the best content producers on social media.
Her book Sex and Power: Defining History, Shaping Societies (Penguin Books, India), based on 5 years of research, looks at the dynamics of sex, sexuality and gender in India over 5000 years, and explores the reasons why the society that produced the kamasutras and erotic temple sculptures at one time, is so sexually conservative in the twenty-first century. The book has been described by The Telegraph (India) as “An extraordinary take on a subject still a taboo [and].. a new interpretation of Indian history.” It was long-listed for the Vodaphone-Crossword Non-Fiction Book Award .
She has published two books of a poetry memoir series of poems taken from her personal diaries. The first is Undressing:Life in Hidden Poems. The poems she has selected for this book are among her most personal. They are about the emotional turbulence of her life over the last twenty-five years, her journey for identity and self, her search for a home amidst constant re-locations across towns and countries, and lessons she has learnt about love, family and relationships. Volume 2 is titled Unsaid. Here she explores her struggles and resolution with self identity after feeling like an “outsider” among multiple cultures and societies, all her life.
In 2015, The European Students for Liberty recognized Banerji among ‘Six Women Who are Changing the World.’ The ‘Wear Your Voice’ magazine voted her among ‘30 Of the Most Influential Women of 2015.’ The Readers Club of Delhi lists her among ‘Indian Feminist Writers You Can’t Afford to Miss.’
Banerji is also a contributing photographer for Getty’s Images.
Apex Award of Excellence for Magazine and Journal Writing (U.S.A.)
Sex and Power was Long-listed for the Vodaphone-Crossword Non-Fiction Book Award (India)
National Award from the Association for Women in Science, Washington D.C. for Ph.D. research on acid rain (U.S.A.) [click to view announcement]
Morgan Adams Award in Biology for Ph.D. Research (U.S.A.)
Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society, Associate member (-Ex)
Botanical Society of America’s Young Botanist Recognition Award
Howard Hughes Grant for research in genetics
Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities
Award for Student Leadership and Service, Mount Holyoke College
Charles A. Dana Fellowship for Research in Ecology
President’s Award for Commitment and Contribution to Campus Life, Mount Holyoke
34 thoughts on “About”
indeed your work on gender studies is specatacular
maybe one day femicide will come to an end – congratulations for the congress in Vienna!
you inspired a long discussion at
GREAT JOB DONE…..CONGRATULATIONS AND WISHES FOR UPCOMING WORKS OF YOURS…
your work is very important!!!!!!!!you keep it up!!!
I also support your movement.
May be someday FEMICIDE will come to an END.One more door you should open and see what is wrong with that picture and try to identify that is kind a Famicide or not. Yes,I am talking about Gujarat…about Swaminarayan sampraday….one thing keep in mind that we are not against them,because all road goes to the GOD….but against their act for women of the world.They (all yogi maharaj and Saints) do not see them,touch them or speak to them and by mistake if they see,speak or touch them; they fast for the day to purify them selves !!!!
I think they do not see them as a Human..Mom…Daughter…Sister.. To them They are untouchable,unspeakable,un see-able animal.(????).Yet they let them cook for them,let them make Prasad,let them clean-up after them…..!!!! What is this????Surprisingly all woman of that sampraday keep working for them as if they are their Masters,God…they all brainwashed and keep working for them as a SLAVES. That is where my thinking come to find out that this is also a part of FEMICIDE.
I support your movement.God Bless you……..Jay Shree Ram.
I agree Bharat. I think the fact that women have internalized this repression is the biggest barrier to fighting it internally. Till women realize that this is an injustice which they have to reject and fight, we will not be able to move forward.
One of the key things you miss out is on the oppression of men. You must know that the patriarchy has not just oppressed women. It is just that the oppression of women is external and very highly visible and the oppression of men is silent and goes invisible through politics of manhood and masculinity.Like a lot of women,most men also have internalized their oppressions and never speak of them, they consder their conditions as naturally ordained!
It is a pity that when I point out this thing to feminists, they only direct me to go to men’s activist groups and say that this is not in their purview. However, in my opinion this is not only misleading but dangerously wrong. Unless men’s concerns are adhered to and their plights addressed, how can we ever think of liberating women?
You see, these things are deeply tied together and more so in matters concerning sexuality. Transgender oppression is also deeply tied to the patriarchal oppression of men and women.
To give you just a few examples of this. Consider how men not attracted to women are treated in society- as simply mere “impotents”. It seems value of an average man in society is tied to whether he can satisfy a woman which is definitely a wrong and unnatural expectation created on men from which there is simply no escape. Secondly, over oppressive masculine gender roles burden men but they fear being seen as lesser men by other men and women and need to hence conceal their real selves from society to fit in. Isn;t this a kind of oppression when you cannot do artistic things,cannot show emotions, cannot love other men (as is the typical “heterosexal” gender role of western societies) and cannot act and feel as you like? Needless to say, many men lead a second-grade life and there is seldom anything done to solve their problems.
I need your views on this considering you are an intelligent and objective woman.
I’ve heard those arguments Tom. And yes, patriarchy may be self-repressive as you say. But its systematic extermination is targeting women in India. 20% of women have been exterminated, and as recent census results show, not before but after birth. See this article. In that regards, arguing for the oppression of men would be like arguing for the oppression of Germans during the Jewish genocide. There’s a reality here we need to face up to!
Great work rita!!! Amazing!!! with your due permission i would like to feature your work on my blog’s cross culture section http://10eveningflowers.wordpress.com/cross-culture-talks/
Thank you Kruti! I appreciate that.
i noticed that you got so many awards from abroad, only one from india. welldone and regards for your commendable work!. But i am not agree with the way you present the article about Desa Pitha. it is not ok to pursue further.
I register my condmnation.
Ganesh Sdn, if condemning an act of gross unethical behaviour is condemnable on part of the author, then you would have to condemn me and I imagine a whole of people in this world.
We may not be perfect, we may not be righteous all the time… but at least this author’s called a spade a spade…. It takes great salt to stand up against wrongs, especially when done by those considered righteous. And to act and voice out our view against indecent and disgusting behaviour… is the greatest righteousness there is in this world.
Desh Pita he may be… but this Desh is not his Jagir… It is of all persons, it is your and it is mine…. Treat it as such.
Your analysis of Asaram and Gandhiji is thought provoking…I appreciate your courage to criticise the Gandhi in a congress led India..I have read such details in the book”Freedom at midnight”.I am eagerly waiting for a study about women in Islam and in contemporory muslim society….
Madam, sad to say this is the first I am reading from your breadth of work… and happy to say I have been fortunate to read it. You have as much support as I can muster….. however, how much I can muster may depend on the time…
Thank you for your truthfulness and for your stand against monstrosity. I have taken the liberty of sending links to your articles to some acquaintances… God willing, there indeed shall be a better place for humanity in the future.
Excellent ‘about’. I’m inspired. You wonderful, beautiful WOMAN. 🙂
I just wrote to an activist in France:
you wrote in your little essay for example:
“- What happened to the passion? It was amended , decreased or ended up …
– Power struggles in Ukraine, Thailand also show the influence of passion. In a fight for freedom or for just better world , protesters find themselves in extremist side , sometimes racist movements and can also switch to something against which they struggled out.
– Our wounds make us react with passion.
– take the time to do some real break before falling into an unhealthy passion , in politics or elsewhere…”
as a German author, with focus on the philosopher Immanuel Kant, I’m always skeptic about enthusiasm. Cool reason was the method Kant tried to support – watching the French revolution with sympathy. But he was not the man to build barricades on the streets. He hoped, that information, words, would be better than swords (or modern: Molotov cocktails). I hope writing is a chance, great enough to support political change. This is written in the times of global internet connection and digital social networks…
maybe thought provoking for you?
My name is Uttara Ray and I am responsible for the communication department of (BSSK) Baruipur Sitakundu Sneh Kunja, a Non-Governmental, Non-Religious and Non-Profit making organization dedicated for the upliftment of the neglected poor masses of the Sunderbans and Baruipur. We are working for the orphans, destitute and less fortunate neglected members of the society so as to help impinge on their causes to help the community to strengthen its local capacities. You can know about us by visiting http://www.bsskweb.com
On course of my writing for the Global Magazine published by our Funding Agency – Global Humanitaria on recent news in India regarding Sexual and Gender Abuse I happened to refer to you and some other personals and their opinions and feedbacks which made Gabriel Díaz who is responsible for the Global Magazine, house-organ of the Global Humanitaria Spanish NGO eager to connect with you as he thinks your viewpoint could have a strong impact on the contributors around Spain.
I have attached Gabriel Díaz’s contact letter for you and hope you will be kind to do the interview via mail. He shall send you all the interview questionnaires himself and shall be very happy if you could please enclose a few pictures of yourself so that the article could be published in the next GH magazine for next month.
Hoping to get your response in the affirmative at the earliest.
equality, at least fairness, seldom found – especially vs. women (in India and Arabia are the worst conditions for women worldwide I believe)
written for you (and Patti and Nietzsche):
for you, Rita, on International Women’s Day:
I hope the world wide media activities will have the power to support a change – but I fear it takes decades… – thanks for your comment at http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/wikiloops/#comments
your work is great mam!
Thank you 🙂
i support you mam !
Are you one of the self-hating Bongs? If u think that this is what Sanskrit has taught u then u r stating completely false and I can even drag u to court for spreading misinformation and telling lie. But I don’t have the money and muscle power which u enjoy. So, I leave it for future. But, as an Indian, I have a humble request that please do not hate urself and b civilized. Writing in English doesn’t give u the power of abuse.
Thanks and regards
thank you for your comment on the topic religion, subjugation, women at
I have sent you a note on your facebook page requesting for a meeting, if possible. I have been following your work for quite some time now and it resonates deeply with vision and mission of our Prerna Girls School, Lucknow which was founded in We use Critical Feminist Pedadogy to teach our girls to resist all the disempowering circumstances that our girls come face and teach them to become independent women with control over their bodies and their being.
It will be a personal honour and of immense value to our work if a meeting with you was possible.
It will be great if you could provide us with an email id to continue further chat.
Hi Rita! Read your piece in Youth Ki Awaaz, about Gandhi and his misuse of power. I am extremely grateful that you have written about it. I had known of this phenomenon but the collective erasure of it from the Indian memory is something that needs to be investigated. I am now dying to read your book. Would love to hear back from you. Is there any way I can email you?
More success to you!
I hope this will be impacted to the whole world, Africa is worst in gender equality, why not all the leaders of the world unite to eradicate exploitation of women. I want Indians to relearn how to respect women from vedic age. Not all are bold like you, make a group of people like you to impact the whole world, especially jihadists. Dont expect any support from any politicians.
Rita, I have known you for many years and you never stop amazing me. It is a gift to know you. In my opinion you have redefined what is meant to “following dharma” in a world lost to dogma and forgetting true universal compassion. Jai. Dada Niilananda
Ms Rita, you analysis on Gandhi is absolutely right. In fact I often used to tell that had it been today, he would have faced fate as another “Bapu”, Asaram. Many of my friends share the same view. Problem lies in Indian and especially Hindu mentality. We love to place any one and every one in the place of god. Once we place some one on that podium, it becomes our responsibility to defend and guard their handiworks, no matter what. After all he is our god and he is doing “shudhhikaran”, physical, mental and spiritual cleansing. Islamic philosophy says none is above god, and never follow anybody blindly and definitely don’t worship anyone, no matter what. This teaching prevents creation of atrocious “Bapus”.