Community Correspondents

Gayatri Ambedkar

Gayatri is a social worker since 2001 and a Community Correspondent. The veteran activist has worked consistently to break down historically ingrained and accepted caste and gender-based discrimination whose effects she personally experienced. Girls in her village were prohibited from continuing their education and were married at an early age. Gayatri, however, was determined to study. The higher secondary school was 15 kilometers away, making it accessible only by cycles. But girls were not allowed to use cycles, which forced Gayatri to copy a student’s notes to continue learning. When she noticed that her method wasn’t effective enough, she chose to take a risk-- learn how to cycle and get to school. Her transgression was initially met with more pronounced verbal abuse by a few people and frequent taunts from community members. But with immense courage and her parents’ support, she completed not just class 12 but three years of a BA programme in Politics and Home Science. “After me, women from my village are being educated,” she says. At an early age, Gayatri began noticing how members of the same village and area treated one another differently. There were rules to be followed and enforced, “when visiting people’s homes, there was a certain way we were required to behave with ‘upper’ caste members and a certain way with members who were from castes ‘lower’ than ours,” she shares. Gayatri says she was curious, albeit cautious and scared, and chose to join the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (All India Dalit Women’s Rights Movement) as a secretary. Soon enough, she became a Community Correspondent with Video Volunteers because she felt that her affiliation with other organisations was not bearing fruit in the ways that she would have liked. “Previously, I only had only printouts and no proof to ground an issue. However, video is a very factual medium which we can use to portray the problems of our own communities and of communities around us,” she shares.   Gayatri has particularly worked on women’s and Dalit rights, and on access to education in her activism with VV and beyond. In 2013, Gayatri made a video about students studying in fields and open spaces in the absence of a safely accessible school. She organised the community and persuaded higher authorities to set up a school. A year later, a school was built with a budget of 6.5 lakhs with three teachers and 80 students. The video, which Gayatri cites as her most important work, will affect generations of Khullaspur residents-- giving them safe access to education. Her leadership is bound to have a lasting impact too. Gayatri’s 2016 video on MNREGA workers demanding job cards was awarded the “Most Viewed YouTube Video” at the Video Volunteers National Meet 2017 with 45.5 lakh views. Education, however, continues to remain a cause she is particularly invested in. In partnership with a school, Gayatri also leads a monthly training session with school girls from classes 9 to 12. Here, she not only seeks to develop some vocational skills but also an understanding of gender dynamics. After these sessions, the students and Gayatri then dance and enjoy together, in the most heartening of gestures. Gayatri is also a part of Video Volunteers' campaign #KhelBadal to dismantle patriarchy. The campaign is taking on patriarchy through stories of women and men who face, negotiate and challenge patriarchy in everyday life — at home, at work, at school, in cultural and public spaces. Under the campaign, she makes films that capture the nuances of routine, normalised gender discrimination, stories of change and runs Gender Discussion Clubs where lively, introspective conversations around gender equality and patriarchy happen.

Videos from Gayatri

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The Misuse of MGNREGA Scheme

/ May 17, 2022

The issue in Shyampur village under Jalalpur Block is that a few villagers started working without the job card, all in good faith, with the assurance that they will be given the job card soon and they will be paid without the job card. 

Impact Story

Fixing India: How Did Transgenders Survive the Lockdown Without Ration Cards?

/ November 11, 2020

When a sudden lockdown was announced in March 2020, transgenders of Uttar Pradesh had nowhere to go until a VV correspondent helped.

Impact Story

VV Correspondent Intervenes to Ensure Ration Delivery in Uttar Pradesh Village

/ September 23, 2020

Ambedkar Nagar villagers were not receiving their quota of ration until a VV correspondent intervened.

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A Sub-Health Center in Raipur, UP, Remains Non-Functional for over a Decade

/ September 9, 2019

Residents of Raipur village, Uttar Pradesh are aloof from health care assistance, as a sub-health center continues to be non-operational for more than twelve years.  Access to health care is a national concern and is correlated with the overall development of the country. In India, there is a huge inequality...

Tragic death of two children motivates a community to build a new school

/ December 13, 2016

The tragic death of two girls was the catalyst for transformation in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Watch how community joined forces with VV to demand a school in their village, under RTE Act, 2005.   When the brand new government school was inaugurated in a village of Uttar Pradesh, the...

Too Beautiful to Pray?

/ September 4, 2017

Patriarchy supplies a slew of bizarre rationales for keeping women away from places of worship.

Impact Story

Tragic Death of Two Children Motivates Community to Demand and Get School

/ March 16, 2017

The tragic death of two girls was the catalyst for transformation in a village in Uttar Pradesh to demand a school in their village, under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

Impact: Camera Unites Community to Fight Corruption

/ July 24, 2015

Khullaspur Village, Ambedkar nagar District, Uttar Pradesh | Gayatri 50 families in the community were being cheated by the local ration dealer in charge of the village public distribution shop. While some got rations lesser than the monthly quota, others got no ration at all. Through her video, Community correspondent...