Gulabi Gang started by Sampat in the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh –in Bundelkhand region -the underbelly of UP. It is one among the poorest 200 districts in India which were first targeted for the federal government’s massive jobs-for-work programme. Over 20% of its 1.6 million people living in 600 villages are lower castes or untouchables. Domestic and sexual violence are common occuranaces. Girl child is considered shameful and a financial liability due to dowry requirements. Women in Banda don’t have economic independence and are often bartered for money.
Sampat has single-handedly helped the women within the community defend themselves and established the relevance of education and women empowerment. The Gang has a presence in 17 zillas across UP, but mainly in 3 Districts of the state’s poorest and most backward Bundlekhand region- Chitrakoot, Fatehpur and Banda which has a respective population of nearly 6 lacs, 19 lacs and 18.5 lacs each. There are nearly 100,000 women in pink saris, who form members of the gang. Each of them poor, illiterate and possessing one skill or other- be it sewing, embroidery, zardosi/fine chikan work, cooking etc. Most of the Gulabi members are recruited whom she has helped.
Though she has worked 25 years, she set up a formal trust in 2006 Banda District called Adivasi Mahila Utthan Gramudyog Seva Sansthan (AMUGSS).The objective is to gradually create an infrastructure with a paid staff to manage the operations and various programs of Gulabi Gang.