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A rare commitment to the working class movement

Veteran women’s rights activist and human rights lawyer, Advocate Jaya Menon, passed away recently. She had been involved in several community-based social movements in Mumbai since 1977. She was a founder member of Stree Jagruti Samiti, Mumbai Initiative for Human Rights Education and Women Networking. She was actively associated with Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) and Institute for Community Research Organisation (ICOR) for over two decades. 

Jaya’s enthusiasm and determination were special and infectious, and galvanised us into action. Both the Menon-sisters, Jaya and Lakshmi, were heart and soul of Women Networking. In the event to commemorate International Women’s Day year-after-year, Jaya’s electrifying persona would enhance the spirit of all participants, women, children and men. You can see that in the photographs here taken six years ago.

Jaya and her twin sister, Lakshmi Menon (see her in the second picture), who passed away 18 months ago, were committed to the working class movement. Their physical ailments never came in the way of their mission. Now, both are united after 18 months.

Jaya observed a high standard of work ethics; she had a sharp understanding of socio-legal issues and the political landscape. Lakshmi and Jaya brought out several booklets on wide range of contemporary challenges targeted at social activists.

Jaya leaves behind her life-partner Prabhakar, son Roshan, sister Gowri and family members, friends and co-travellers in the social movements concerning women workers, community development, tribal people’s land rights and sociology-legal rights.

(By Vibhuti Patel. The writer was a professor at the Advanced Centre for Women’s Studies, School of Development Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.)

July – September 2022

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