Name: Dr Manda Mune
Where: Maharashtra, India
What she does: Doctor
Impact: Empowers adolescent girls living in slums, in particular Dalit girls
Nominated by: John Griffin, Head of Programmes, The Karuna Trust
“Born into a poor Dalit family in rural Maharashtra, Dr. Manda Mune has first-hand experience of what it is like to grow up having to fight for education and equality. After her mother died when Dr. Mune was 9 years old, she was sent from relative to relative before finally gaining a place at a hostel for poor Dalit children. That is when Dr. Mune says “My life started to change.” “My mother’s father tried to marry me off when I was twelve. I cried. I told my grandmother that I did not want to marry, I wanted to study. I refused to eat and I refused to see the men who came to see me. In the end, my uncle agreed to continue funding my education and this gave me confidence.”
Dr. Mune continued her education, vowing to become a doctor. “I remember when I was about six I caught scabies and was treated in hospital. I was inspired that somebody could make people well and help to save lives”. For 15 years she was a docter practicing in the Pipmri a slum district in Pune. More recently she has established an NGO called the Green Tara that empowers Women. Dr Manda Mune is a practicing Buddhist who is also known locally as Karunaprabha.
For the last 5 years, Karunaprabha has been leading and managing this adolescent girls empowerment project in the slums of Vishrantwadi, Pune. Along with her female team of local Dalit women, she runs Life Skills classes where girls are given a safe space to explore themselves, and the complex world around them. She also equips girls with vital knowledge and skills around nutrition, first aid, sexual health and anaemia. Dr Mune’s strong leadership is driven by her passion to help those girls who are a stark reminder of who she once was. Through struggle and sheer conviction, Dr Mune is transcending own conditioning and disenfranchisement, and at the same time creating a new generation of empowered women. Most recently she has become a leading member of The Maitri womens empowerment group of women led Dalit NGOs “