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Words that capture the dreams and thoughts of women

A brand new writers’ festival arrives in the city, to talk about gender issues and give one half of the population a literary platform.

art and culture Updated: Feb 17, 2017 20:37 IST
Henna Rakheja
Writers who will be speaking at the first edition of the Women Writers’ Festival.
Writers who will be speaking at the first edition of the Women Writers’ Festival.

Think of Indian women writers and names such as Mahasweta Devi and Ismat Chughtai immediately come to mind. Powerful as they were, theirs are among the few glittering names of women in the galaxy of Indian authors. The vast majority of women writers in India don’t get the recognition that they often deserve. One of the primary reasons is the absence of a platform.

It is to fill this vacuum that for the first time, a Women Writers’ Festival is being organised in the city.

“There are a lot of women who are working on women’s issues, but there is no platform where they can come together to discuss [their work] and very little resource that they can access. Many women writers just remain unsung heroes,” says Anuradha Das Mathur, founder of the festival.

At the two-day literature festival, there will be panel discussions and talks by speakers such as Monika Halan, Bahar Dutt, Aparna Jain, Veenu Venugopal, Mala Bhargava, Yashodhara Lal, Urvashi Butalia, Nishita Jha, Bee Rowlatt, Amrita Tripathi, Shaili Chopra, Sonia Golani, Shreyasi Singh and others.

“There are a lot of fiction writers who will also be speaking at the festival, because their books are also based on stories of working women. Plus, there are many women who write on business and other non-fiction subjects, yet go unnoticed. This festival is for all of them,” adds Mathur.

The questions and themes that this festival will try to explore include women writing on business issues; fewer bestselling women authors in the country; and how women have managed to navigate professional spaces alongside motherhood.

Author Yashodhara Lal, who has created several women characters and their stories inspired by her observations and experiences from life in the corporate setting, says, “I think it’s really important for festivals like this to come up for multiple reasons. Women writers really need to be celebrated and heard more as a community. Also, the topic here is about issues that shape development of women at the workplace — many corporate firms are showing commitment to the idea of building diversity in the workplace, particularly through female participation at all levels in the workforce. Action begins with talking about the issues and developing clarity about what works and what doesn’t.”

This issue of women and workplaces has attracted author Aparna Jain, too. “There are literature festivals around the world, where usually there’s one token panel comprising women speakers, talking about women’s issues. But there is need for an entire festival for women, such as this one, where we are going to debunk the myths and stereotypical meaning of feminism,” says Jain.

CATCH IT LIVE
  • What: Women Writer’s Festival 2017
  • Where: Sri Aurobindo Centre for Arts and Communication, Adhchini
  • When: February 24 and 25
  • Timings: 10am to 7.30pm
  • Nearest Metro Station: Hauz Khas on Yellow Line