WORD PODCAST: Women on Racism and Discrimination
Navanita Bhattacharya: A Journey of Social Justice and Empowerment
In this edition of WORD – Women On Racism and Discrimination, we have the privilege of speaking with Navanita Bhattacharya, an advocate at the forefront of racial, gender, economic, and social justice. With three decades of experience, Navanita currently serves as the director of the inclusion justice transformation practice at Tetra Tech International Development. In this interview, Navanita shares her insights on the impact of systemic racism, her personal journey towards social justice, and the transformative power of resources like Maya Cares.
The Impact of Social Injustice
Navanita emphasises the profound impact of structural and systemic injustices on individuals, describing it as having the power to “kill” someone. These inequalities are deeply woven into all aspects of society, from education to healthcare to access to resources. The root cause of such inequalities lies in the imbalance of resource distribution, not only economic resources but also political and cultural resources. Navanita illustrates this with a personal anecdote about her daughter’s experience with racism at school, highlighting the detrimental effects on individuals’ psyches, regardless of age. She further emphasises how racial injustices can have fatal consequences, underscoring the gravity of the issue.
The Journey of Social Justice
Navanita’s commitment to social justice can be traced back to her upbringing in India, where she trained to join the Indian police service. However, her path took a different direction as she engaged with grassroots organisations, volunteering and joining movements that focused on gender equality and environmental preservation. Her experiences working with marginalised communities and facing threats of violence further solidified her purpose. Navanita’s work extends beyond her professional role; it is part of her DNA. She uses social media platforms to share her experiences, vent her frustrations, and mobilise others. Through her writing, she has inspired and motivated people across the globe, making a tangible impact in their lives.
The Role of Maya Cares
When asked about Maya Cares, a chatbot developed by The Creative Co-Operative, Navanita expressed her appreciation for the platform. While she personally possesses a high level of resilience and activism, she recognises the significance of Maya Cares for individuals facing racism and discrimination. The accessibility and multilingual capabilities of the platform empower people to navigate racialised public spaces. Navanita praises the co-creation process and the embedded design justice principles, which align with her own approach to social justice work. She also highlights the potential for Maya Cares to be implemented in other countries with similar dynamics, showcasing its power as a transformative tool.
Navanita Bhattacharya’s journey in social justice spans decades and continents. Her unwavering commitment to fighting systemic racism and advocating for inclusivity is evident in her personal and professional endeavours. From her early experiences in India to her current role at Tetra Tech International Development, Navanita’s work has brought about tangible change in the lives of marginalised communities. As she continues to make her mark on the world, Navanita recognises the significance of resources like Maya Cares in empowering individuals and dismantling systemic injustices. Her story serves as an inspiration to others, urging them to take radical steps towards healing and social transformation.
About Navanita Bhattacharya
Navanita works at the intersection of racial, gender, economic and social justice, where she uses her capabilities to change the structures, policies and processes that continue to keep some groups of people purposefully in the margins.
Navanita’s work, over the last 30 years, has spanned South Asia, South East Asia, West Africa, Pacific, and Australia.
Currently as the Director of the Inclusion, Justice and Transformation Practice at Tetra Tech International Development, she leads human-centric program design, brokering partnerships and facilitating collaborative ecosystems for systems-led change.
Navanita is raising a feminist child, who questions and challenges stereotypes and biases in her school, playgrounds and at home.