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A treasure of women’s history at SPARROW

mumbai Updated: Feb 22, 2010 01:29 IST
Mini Pant Zachariah

When one reaches the Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW) office in Dahisar, it seems only natural that it is called The Nest – a home to the voices of women that otherwise get lost in the patriarchal society.

Two years ago, SPARROW moved into this office.

Global recession depleted the funds and so the archive is holding an art raffle on March 8 to build the corpus. Fifty women artists — Anju Dodiya, Brinda Miller and Rekha Rodwittiya, to name a few — have donated their works for the raffle draw.

SPARROW collects oral history and visual material on women’s lives and experience for future research - stories do not find a mention in newspaper reports that are considered the first drafts of history.

Some of the material you can find in the SPARROW office:

Booklets: A dozen booklets on women from diverse fields, such as struggle of Dalit writer Urmila Pawar and that artist Neela come alive here. So does the journey of over-80-year-old Esther Victoria Abraham from an impish schoolgirl in Calcutta to Pramila, an actress in Bollywood who became a producer in her own right.

Books: Books like Hot is the Moon, first in a series of five volumes to be published with the writings of and interviews with 87 writers from 23 languages, women writers in four languages find place along with translated works of Kannada writers Banu Mustaq, Kanaka Ha Ma, Mithra Venkatraj, Tulasi Venugopal and Vaidehi; Tamil writers like Bama, Kutti, Revathi Salma, Malathy Maitri and Vaasanthi; Konkani writers like Hema Naik and Jayanti Naik and Tulu ones like M Janaki Brahmavara and Suneetha Shetty.

Exhibitions: Apart from painting two BEST buses with pictures of women’s struggle over the decades, SPARROW has held exhibitions like The world of Maya, a show of cartoonist late Maya Kamath.

Films: Ten Women, Ten Lives, Ten Concerns, is a 45-minute film that was a part of the Global Feminisms films commissioned by the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan. Women's Studies pioneers in India Dr Neera Desai and Dr Vina Mazumdar, Mumbai’s leading lawyer Flavia Agnes, Tamil theatre activist Mangai, writer Mahasweta Devi, President of the Shakti Shalini group in Delhi Shahjehan Aapa, environmental and health activist Lata P M, Director of a women's organisation in Pudukkpttai called STEPS Sharifa, General Secretary of All Manipur Women's Reformation and Development Samaj Ima Thokchom Ramani Devi were among the women documented.