The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) condoles the death on 25 August in Kasegaon, rural Sangli, Maharashtra of scholar, author and activist Dr. Gail Omvedt. American-born Gail Omvedt, who had made India her home since she came here to do her doctoral work, was 81 at the time of her death.
Inspired by the anti-war movements in the 1960s-70s in her native country she engaged herself with various environmentalist and anti-caste struggles throughout her stay in India and was active in the cause of social justice for Dalits. She was greatly influenced by social activist Indutai Patankar and made her home in Kasegaon, Sangli where with her partner Bharat Patankar, she founded Shramik Mukti Dal, a socio-political organisation and organised farmers and agricultural workers on water rights, building sustainable dams, drought measures and against caste oppression.
She contributed to debates in the women’s movement on the linkages between caste, class and gender especially in the context of agrarian relation. She headed the Phule-Ambedkar chair in the Sociology Department of Pune University and her books like ‘Non-Brahmin Movements in Western India’, ‘Buddhism in India’, ‘Mahatma Phule’, ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’, ‘Dalits and Democratic Revolution’ established her reputation as a staunch fighter in the anti-caste struggle. We recall her contributions as author and activist for social justice with admiration and respect.