WORDS THAT WOMEN WRITE AND SPEAK
A new festival arrives, to talk about gender issues and give one half of the population a platform
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, 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.”
Author Aparna Jain says, “There are literature festivals around the world where there’s a token panel of women speakers, talking about women’s issues. But there’s a need for an entire festival for women.”
(Clockwise from left) Shaili Chopra, Shreyasi Singh, Urvashi Butalia, Natasha Badhwar, Vidya Shah and Poonam Barua