The next few articles on Kaur Life are featuring Sikh women who are combating hate with love through social justice work; women who are fighting for human rights with their Sikh values.
Each of these Sikh women are deeply involved with creating positive change in the world through their actions and continue to strive to be closer to the Divine. Here at Kaur Life, we feel it’s important to highlight Kaurs who are resisting misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, racism, sexism, alibis or other -isms. This could be through art, music, poetry, protesting, boycotting, writing, careers, jobs, volunteering, raising radical children, and more…the frontlines are everywhere! Today’s article showcases Kaurs of the Resistance: The Healers. Read our first article: The Advocates.
I am currently a research fellow with the Revolutionary Love Project at the University of Southern California. I received my Master’s in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and have taught courses as a lecturer on sociological research methods, social problems, and feminist theory.
Her Social Justice
As fellows for the Revolutionary Love Project, our aim is to examine and implement love as a public ethic. The social environment we live in is constantly changing and now more than ever, as hate and exclusion have taken a strong hold on our society, the need to spread love and understanding has become an essential task in our communities. I am also passionate about human rights issues in India. For decades, Sikhs and other minorities have been persecuted, denied rights, and it’s important to do what we can while living in the diaspora. This need has led me to become involved in issues such as the imprisonment of Sikh political prisoners, and to help organize events and write about these topics to raise awareness.
The beauty of Sikhi is its embodiment of love. Its practice, remembrance of Vaheguru, and message helps love permeate life, encouraging us to be more loving beings that can hopefully one day, truly see the Divine in everyone and everything. Sikhi’s rich history of sacrifice and standing up for others is also a constant, beautiful reminder of our origin, purpose, and its need in our everyday lives.
Her advice to other Kaurs wanting to get politically and socially engaged
There are Sikh organizations (worldwide) and an array of resources that exist which can help inform what work needs to be done and how you can help. At times, issues will arise and the need to organize and carry out actions will have to be done on the spot (rally, protest or a demonstration). Regardless of the issue, it’s important to do what we can, where we can, even if it’s something simple as getting involved on social media and raising awareness.
I am Social worker based in Australia and dedicate a lot of my time/energy in tackling social issues within Indian-Sikh community such as domestic violence and gender equality. I am on board of Sikh Helpline Australia and also set up Kaurs Corner Australia. I am a Sikh, a social worker, a feminist, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a sister.
The Sikh religion is founded upon values of righteousness, equality, social justice, compassion, and mercy. Guru Gobind Singh Ji bestowed the title of “Kaur”, which means “princess”, on all women who became initiated baptized Sikhs. Throughout Sikh history we have during the Guru’s reign and afterwards the Sikhs would demonstrate respect towards women and protected the rights of women.
Unfortunately, in 2017, the Sikhs have lost their way. Many of the proclaimed “Sikhs” do not practice or follow the Sikh religious beliefs around women rights and empowerment.
As Sikh women and social worker it saddens and makes me angry, that we:
- have such high rates of violence against Indian/Sikh women
- continue to see high rates if female infanticide particularly within Punjab region despite legislation prohibiting this practice
- dowry issues with significant pressure/coercion or extortion placed on brides family within India and overseas
Her Social Justice
It is only in recent years in my social work profession that I have become actively involved in tackling the social issues of domestic violence, assault, and gender equality within Sikh-Indian community in Australia. In 2015, Sikh Helpline Australia was established and I was appointed as one of board advisors. From Sikh faith perspective and Social worker context I have been supporting numerous Punjabi Sikh women across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne who are victims of domestic violence, dealing with family violence and stress, dowry, and forced abortion.
Hi, my name is Mandeep! I’m a Sikh, a nurse, a native Austinite, a dog mom, and a human driven by the desire to make the world a better place to live.
Her Social Justice
There are innumerable opportunities to promote love – from one on one interactions or large community organized events. Love is the platform I use when doing social justice work – promoting love, awareness and acceptance will lead to social justice. I focus on events that will bring awareness about the Sikh faith, or provide resources to the small Sikh community in Austin from sources that I am connected with but the general congregation may not have access to.
I let the tenets of Sikhi guide my life and work. Sikhi teaches me to love, and to be accepting – so those are the values I focus on in my activism. I have a vested interest in promoting awareness about Sikhism to ensue that my family and loved ones can live safely and happily.
Find your calling and let that drive you. Growing up in Texas and seeing racism first hand motivated me to make my voice heard, and to promote love. I encourage you to not be overwhelmed when considering how much growth and change is still needed, but rather to realize that even the smallest steps can make a difference.