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Sampatpal Devi: Founder /Leader

Born in 1958 in the Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, Sampat Pal Devi was the daughter of a poor shepherd. In early childhood she tended the goats and cattle but yearned to go to school. She taught herself to read and write, learning from her brothers who went to school. Seeing her enthusiasm for education, one of her uncles took the initiative to enroll her in school. After having studied up to the fourth standard, she was taken out of school and married off to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of twelve. At 15 she became a mother and went on to raise five children in the next few years. She worked as a government health worker but resigned her job later to become a social crusader.

In 2006 she started a society called the Gulabi Gang with a group of women from her village to fight various forms of social injustice. This developed into an organized women’s movement with tens of thousands of members spread over several districts in Uttar Pradesh. The women members wear pink saris and arm themselves with bamboo sticks, which they use whenever they come up against violent resistance.