Who We Are

Formed in 1998, Dalit Solidarity Network brings together individuals and organisations concerned about the continued violation of human rights as a result of caste-based discrimination. Registering as an official charity in 2003, Dalit Solidarity Network UK continues to grow as an effective campaigning and advocacy organisation, working on the issue of caste discrimination in Great Britain and being an active player in the global movement.

Our members include individuals, development agencies, trade unions, journalists and academics, and we are fortunate to have the support of other human rights organisations, with whom we work closely. Based within the offices of Anti-Slavery International in London, our team consists of the Director, Meena Varma, and two part-time members of staff. Our Honorary Chair, Jeremy Corbyn MP leads a dedicated group of highly influential Trustees and Patrons.

With a worldwide rise in the movement to stamp out caste-based discrimination, DSN-UK is one of the members of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), which focuses on highlighting the issues on the global stage, including at the European Union and United Nations.

Honorary Chair, Jeremy Corbyn MP

Jeremy has been the Member of Parliament for Islington North since 1983 and was the first Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Dalits. He is the former leader of the Labour Party and has been instrumental in raising important questions in relation to caste discrimination within Parliament. In his own words: ‘This is an issue the Government and all those concerned about good community relations must address. Any discrimination, of whatever kind, is unacceptable and must be both legislated against and challenged by all appropriate means.

Our Trustees

Chair, Dr Corinne Lennox

As the Senior Lecturer in Human Rights at the ICWS, Associate Director, HRC, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Corinne’s research focuses on minority and indigenous rights protection, civil society mobilization and human rights and development. A human rights practitioner and trainer, she acts as a consultant for the UNDP, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues and the Swiss Government. The first President of the Essex Human Rights Alumni Association (EHRAA), she is also a member of the UK Network on Minority Groups and Human Rights and a Trustee of IDSN.

 

Vice-Chair, Tom Palakudiyil

As the Head of the Asia region of WaterAid, Tom oversaw the charity’s work in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. He was also the thematic lead person on sanitation in WaterAid, with over 15 years of experience in the development sector in India and South Asia. Previously he worked for Christian Aid, first as Country Director for India, and subsequently as Regional Manager for South Asia. Tom brings all this expertise to DSN-UK, where we have benefited enormously.

 

Treasurer, Kate Solomeyina

Kate is the Finance Manager at the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a tri-partite organisation working to ensure workers across the globe and in all supply chains have full access to their rights. After graduating from the University of Ivano-Franko, Ukraine in 2000 with a degree in Business Finance, she moved to the UK to continue with her studies towards an accounting qualification. Over the last 12 years Kate has worked in finance roles at not-for-profit organisations. Her previous work experience includes Tommy’s Charity, CL:AIRE, and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

 

Bala Gnanapragasam, Trustee

Bala was born in Sri Lanka and has over 20 years’ professional experience in the international telecommunications sector, much of this at executive level at British Telecom, ECI Telecom, CTell Inc. and Interoute Telecommunications Ltd. Until 2010 he was Chairman of University Hospital Lewisham NHS Trust, a post which he held for eight years. He served two terms as an elected Labour councillor of the London Borough of Lewisham and represented Lewisham on the Inner London Education Authority. Bala has served on a number of charitable bodies, including Wesley House Cambridge, London Ecumenical Aids Trust, Age Exchange, Applecart, Methodist Relief and Development Fund, Change Alliance (India)and Christian Aid.

 

Prerna Tambay, Trustee

Dr Prerna Tambay is an Associate Professor for Bedfordshire University, as Course Director for MSc and MA International HRM Programmes, with a specialism in Future of work, Digitisation of HRM and People Analytics. Her research interest is in Modern Slavery, Employee Wellbeing, Digitisation and Ethics. She holds a PhD from London University, Birkbeck College, where her thesis examined the strike actions in British Higher Education and the mobilisation processes. She is passionate about finding solutions to women issues and using technology for social good.

 

Ramani Leathard, Trustee

Originally from Sri Lanka, Ramani has been working for Christian Aid in the field of International Development for over 25 years in a number of roles. Currently the Regional Manager for South East Asia, she has also held the roles of Country Manager for Burma and Regional Communications Manager for Asia and the Middle East. Her experience in development includes programme strategy, advocacy and communications for Christian Aid’s work in India, Israel/Palestine, Sri Lanka and Burma. When DSN-UK was initially set up, Ramani was the secretary and managed Christian Aid’s grant to the network.

 

Our Team

Gazala Shaikh, Director

Gazala Shaikh has over two decades of experience in international humanitarian and development sector in South and Central Asia. Gazala spent a major part of her career working in different parts of India, starting with grass-roots action, going on to lead programmes and campaigns focusing on equitable development, social justice, access to natural resources, and gender-based development for most marginalized communities. While working at leadership positions with institutions like Development Alternatives, Centre for Environment Education and most recently with Mercy Corps in Tajikistan, she engaged extensively with a wide variety of stakeholders’ including- government, policy makers, civil society institutions, media, influencers, and activist groups. She has led multi-cultural teams, managed large-scale programmes, anchored several coalitions, networks and platforms across countries and regions. Policy dialogue, capacity building, behavior change and policy communication, network and partnership development are her forte.

Gazala is a communication specialist by training with additional training in environment education, negotiation and conflict management and policy analysis and advocacy. In past she has served on inter-agency coordination working groups for migration and refugees in Tajikistan. Gazala was national co-chair for CANSA- India chapter (CANSA – Climate Action Network South Asia). Gazala is a LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development) Fellow from Cohort 10.

Danguole Kleinaityte, Co-ordinator

Danguole (Danni) Kleinaityte joined Dalit Solidarity Network UK in 2015, when she was completing her Masters in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the University of London. Before then, Danni managed homelessness and learning disabilities projects in London, and volunteered at various international development projects in India, Albania and Mozambique. Danni also has a Bachelor’s degree in International Development with International Relations. Before going on Maternity Leave, Danni worked with International Dalit Solidarity Network, including as United Nations Advocacy Officer. She is currently the UK Co-ordinator.

 

Hannah Tausz, Outreach and Administration

Hannah originally joined Dalit Solidarity Network UK in 2018, covering maternity leave, and has since taken on the role of Outreach, to connect with members and other organisations. An editor by training, she produces the quarterly newsletters and articles for the website. Her most recent project is reaching out to Higher Education Institutions to ensure that caste is included in their policies and courses. She has previously worked in South East Asia and Italy, and started her career in youth work. She has a Masters in Business Studies and Philosophy from the University of Glasgow.  

Patrons

Singh Bahal

Rob Marris

Dr Aidan McQuade

Jean Lambert

Professor Mary Grey

Dr Vincent Manoharan

John Montagu, Earl of Sandwich

Partners and Supporters

The Farthing Trust The Wyndham Charitable Trust St Clare and St Francis Trust