Fashion & Freedom

Manchester Art Gallery

Deshna Shah



Female influence:
Great Aunty Abha Bhaiya

Photographer:
Hayley Moses Walsh

My great aunty Abha Bhaiya is an inspiration to me and to all women. She is one of the founder members of Jagori, meaning ‘Awaken Women’, a feminist organisation set up in 1984 in Delhi. She has been active in women’s movements in India for nearly 40 years. She has been working on a range of issues including women’s social, political and economic rights.

In 2002, she set up a feminist retreat TARA in one of the villages of lower Himalayas and also implemented a feminist community programme in nearly 150 villages with a team of nearly 75 activists and workers.

She represents the movement towards equality especially in areas of the world where there is little support for women. She is the voice for many women whose voices are muted. In my portrait I am wearing a scarf in her honour, an item of clothing that she always wears. I am holding the Om hand gesture, which in my religion represents to bow to the enlightened ones, but universally can also represent peace.

In my opinion the freedom she has given to women through education and aid is inspirational. She is a strong woman just like the many women of WWI.

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