A voice to be reckoned with in Chhattisgarh, Mamta Kujur has been working to build an empowered adivasi community in Jashpur district since 2003. As the leader of Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, she has spearheaded a movement demanding the long ignored rights of the adivasi community.
Kujur’s core work has been the empowerment of women of the area. Starting with bringing them together to form SHGs for economic independence, she encouraged women to be self-reliant. The sangathan’s first significant victory was against the criminalization of traditional liquor brewed by adivasis. Kujur became a SRUTI Fellow in 2007. After this, the sangathan has been countering the indiscriminate misappropriation of land in the resource-abundant district. The devastating impact of mining in neighbouring districts such as Raigarh and Surguja motivated Mamta to mobilize the people of Jashpur, creating awareness of their rights and the economic and environmental implications of large-scale industries that rely on their resources. In 2011, the sangathan managed to stall the illegal construction of a dam on Gullu river.
The sangathan is now led by strong, politically conscious women who keenly follow developments in the area. They have taken up the issue of human, especially girl, trafficking which is widespread in the northern districts of Chhattisgarh. An Oraon herself, Mamta’s focus is on issues that form the core of adivasi identity and are under constant threat – jal, jangal, zameen and the adivasi way of life. Mamta is part of several state national-level committees on various issues, and has represented the Indian indigenous community on international forums.