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Meenal Shrivastava
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In Her Own Words: Amma’s Daughters Reading Group (


Over the next few weeks, we will be reading Amma’s Daughters by Meenal Shrivastava, a book about ordinary women who were quietly extraordinary in their lifelong commitment to freedom and justice for all, and we would love for you to join!

Amma was born in 1918, the year of the influenza pandemic that claimed 50 to 100 million lives worldwide. In the aftermath of the pandemic, a whole generation of communities saw a decline in life expectancy, income, education, and other measures of well being. The death toll of the 1918 pandemic also shortened World War I and helped tip the balance of power in the latter days of the war toward the Allies.

Subsequently, nationalism surged in the form of Fascism, Nazism, and economic protectionism, but also in the form of independence movements in a number of colonized nations around the world. Amma’s life and choices were inherently connected to these cataclysmic events as a young girl living in colonized India. The stories in Amma’s Daughters remind us that ordinary people’s lives affect, and are in turn transformed by these momentous events, and thus we need constant reminders of our stakes in any major social-political change.

A century apart, as COVID-19 continues to rake up a massive toll, what lessons can we learn from the world that emerged from the ravages of the influenza pandemic from the perspective of ordinary people, particularly women and children?