A new fes­ti­val ar­rives, to talk about gen­der is­sues and give one half of the pop­u­la­tion a plat­form

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - City - - Time Out - Henna Rakheja henna.rakheja@htlive.com

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

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