Delhi group seeks to demystify feminism

Feminism in India plans to amplify voices of the minorities so that they break their silence against oppression


Japleen Pasricha (left), founder and editor-in-chief, Feminism in India, and Swetha, content strategist, Feminism in India. Dandapani. Photo: Mint
Japleen Pasricha (left), founder and editor-in-chief, Feminism in India, and Swetha, content strategist, Feminism in India. Dandapani. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Three years have passed, but the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a Delhi bus in December 2012 still sends shivers down every woman’s spine. Public outrage led to multiple protests, demonstrations and candlelight vigils; some organizations came forward to fight violence against women. One such organization, which merely started as a Facebook page, but has gained popularity across the nation is Feminism in India.

This Delhi-based group is a digital feminist new media community platform, which is trying to amplify the voices of the minorities, marginalized and the powerless so that they break their silence against oppression. Its work sprawls across multiple forms of media, art, culture and technology.

“We don’t want to focus on just women, but we want to go beyond gender. We are taking all kinds of power hierarchies into consideration so that nobody lives on the margin. We like to call ourselves intersectional” said Japleen Pasricha, founder and editor-in-chief, Feminism in India.

The mission of this group is to become a one-stop platform for everything that is related to feminism in India. It is working towards building a social movement to learn, educate and develop a feminist sensibility among the youth of the country.

“The word ‘Feminism’ has a lot of negativity around it. The purpose behind this movement is to demystify the F-word. We want people to subscribe to a feminist sensibility and develop a feminist consciousness,” said the 26-year-old feminist activist.

In less than a year, this team of three members has united 50 plus writers from all over India, who contribute high-quality articles written from a feminist lens.

“Our recent articles talk about how music and film industries of India have perpetuated the gender-based violence. Attempt to rape is a plot in most of the movies. It is such a callous representation of gender-based violence and our society takes it for granted,” said Swetha Dandapani, 32, content strategist at Feminism in India.

The group has already published over 200 articles on the issues of national importance on its website. The team has independently run three strategic digital campaigns and two collaborative campaigns with other young feminist groups. Members create viral social media content in the form of posters, images and graphics. They have also conducted tweet-chats and “tweetathons” on Twitter on trending topics.

Currently, they are moderating a feminist group on Facebook with more than 5,000 members and have been engaging them in positive discussions and debates.

“We are running a campaign called Global 16 days of activism, an international campaign against gender-based violence by the UN in which we are addressing this issue using news (print and digital) and social media. Our campaign ends on 10 December but we might have to extend the date because we have been receiving great response from all over the nation,” said Pasricha.

The main idea behind the campaign is to come up with suggestions of how people and media can act sensibly towards the issue of gender-based violence. “We are also focusing on the kind of language that can be used like using the word ‘survivor’ instead of ‘victim’, the images that can be used by media to portray gender-based violence in a sensible way,” Pasricha added.

At the moment, the project runs on a volunteer basis. The group is trying to make it self-sustainable in the next two years, with plans to run strategic digital campaigns with organizations and corporations that are already working on similar issues.

Since the website is entirely non-commercial, Pasricha and her team rely on other means to earn their living. She works as a consultant for Point of View, a Mumbai-based women’s NGO, but hopes to devote full time to her initiative soon.

“The website takes a lot of time, energy and sometimes money as well. We have been applying for funds and might hear a good news soon”, said Pasricha.

Mint has a strategic partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation that hosts the Manthan and mBillionth awards.