All India Students Association candidate Asmita Sarkar made history at Jadavpur University, in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. She was the first openly lesbian candidate to run for a post on the Arts Faculty Student's Union.
Part of a growing trend of youth involvement and rejection of traditional gender biases, Asmita admits that regarding LGBTI issues, her country has a long journey ahead. Living openly and honestly despite all the hardships she has faced, she preaches a message of strength and openness.
"It's very important to come out of the closet because society must learn that being a person who has a non-binary identity is nothing against nature...more often than not, people don't accept that there is anything called homosexuality. It is almost like we don't even belong in the same space; there is no place for the LGBTI [person] in Indian society," says Sarkar. "One needs to be taught about gender and sexuality from primary level itself. The problem we are facing is that sex education itself is a taboo in India."
Sarkar believes the change that she seeks comes through education. It is for that reason that she ran on a platform based on inclusivity and tolerance and sought to create a positive space where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, could interact and learn. While she did not win the post for which she ran, she and her party were able to wholeheartedly congratulate the winner, who has similar aims in making the university more inclusive.
On the route forward towards equality, Sarkar says, "...Never lose hope. The dictatorship of the society against your and my struggle tries to bring us down. But we won't bow down, because [they] cannot decide or dictate our sexuality or freedom."
The Victory Institute seeks to empower individuals such as Asmita who understand that when it comes to real and lasting change in governance and larger society, representation matters. Click here to learn more about our partnership with Indian human rights organization "Solidarity Foundation."