How many of us have truly tried to understand a woman in our lives? Not only men, but how many of the women have ever tried to understand the lives of fellow women? There has been so many instances where the choices of these women were ignored and were not respected enough.
News Intervention, the startup digital platform, has made an honest effort to usher change and discuss the issues that were either not discussed or talked about in hushed tones. News Intervention is the voice of unheard, and to commemorate the successful completion of one year, the startup portal organized a talk on “Inside the Mind of an Indian Woman” on January 15. This was the first talk in the Conversation Series being planned by News Intervention.
Three women who had been exemplary examples of courage and determination and have attained success in their respective careers were the panelists at “Inside the Mind of an Indian Woman”. Padma Shri Deepa Malik, recipient of Khel Ratna Award in 2019, Ms. Prabha Rao, retired IPS & Intelligence Officer and Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda, Acting Principal Miranda House, Delhi University talked about their life’s experiences and inspired the audience.
Mahua Venkatesh, moderator for the talk, started off by asking Deepa Malik about her struggles and how she overcame them in order to reach her current position. A Khel Ratna Awardee and the first Indian woman to win a medal in the Paralympic Games in 2016, Deepa Malik’s words enlightened the audience. She spoke about her initiative “Ability beyond Disability” and asked, “What has taken 70 years for India to get a female Paralympics athlete?” This question forced the audience to think about the state of affairs of women in India.
A survivor of chest-below paralysis and a spine tumor, Deepa Malik is also a winner of F53 Javelin at the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China. Deepa Malik revealed that most of the derogatory and critical comments that she ever faced in her career came mostly from women. She urged everyone to never give up hope and to never be scared of asking for help. Deepa Malik also pointed out on how the society as a whole tends to put limitations on the basis of their gender, age and body structure and very seldom looks at the will of the person.
Prabha Rao talked about the origin of patriarchy and its existence in modern society. She started her career as a journalist with Indian Express and retired as an IPS officer. A woman of tremendous intellect and a powerhouse of wisdom, Prabha Rao talked about rescuing trafficked victims. She also spoke about the sheer confidence that women develop within themselves from the economic independence and about the severity of conditions of human trafficking in India. She also highlighted the issue of sanitary pad disposal in rural areas which surprisingly has turned out to be a burden for them as there is no proper system for its disposal in rural areas.
Dr. Bijayalaxmi Nanda, who is researching on the issues of declining child sex ratio, said that she was quite impressed by the topic of the talk “Inside the Mind of an Indian Woman.” She explained that this society has always preferred the body of a woman more than her mind. Dr Nanda added that both men and women are equal bearers of patriarchy and that the term ‘feminism’ has existed in the history of Indian society for a long time as there were a number of women in the subcontinent who challenged societal systems fearlessly. She also threw light on the fact that the country has a number of laws for women’s rights but unfortunately does not have the social readiness to accept those.
Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda made a powerful statement when she said: “The more educated is always not the most empowered.”
The audience participated enthusiastically in the conversation and there was a vibrant question and answer round.
Nirbhaya’s mother Smt. Asha Devi could not join this conversation as she was busy fighting the legal battle in courts to get Nirbhaya’s rapists hanged. Even though Asha Devi was not present, the other three panelists made sure that the discussion addressed the issue of Nirbhaya as well. The panelists called Asha Devi a very courageous mother who didn’t sit back and accept the crime that was committed against her daughter and chose to fight back in order to deliver justice.
Asha Devi is a fighter and a rebel who made her presence felt among the audience despite not being physically present at the talk.