Feminism Under Conflict
The Department of Languages, School of Arts and Humanities, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Pune Lavasa Campus organized a Guest Talk by author Mini Nair on 2nd December 2023. The session was held in the Smart Room Central Block and was attended by students, faculty and admin staff. Ms. Nair is a domain expert in primary packaging for drugs and a USFDA guideline expert, heading the business operation of LOG Pharma Packaging, Israel in India. A pharmaceutical expert by day and a writer by night, she has authored numerous works including an illustrated middle-grade children’s book, the biography of a noted pharmaceutical scientist B V Patel, several short stories and novels including The Fourth Passenger (2011) and Lines of Separation (2023). Ms. Nair has read at the Emirates Festival of Literature and the Goa Literary Festival. Her story idea on the subject of illegal embryo sex selection was the basis for a film produced for the nonprofit organization Population First, Mumbai. She has been associated with Laadli, an initiative to save the girl child floated by Population First. Her story ideas were adapted into a film and in 2018, she along with Abha Singh, Kumar Ketkar and Manjul Bharadwaj released a white paper on the media coverage of the Kathua rape case. Mr Nair has also debuted on the theatre stage with The Hoshruba Repertoire and was part of the original cast of Qissebaazi played at the NCPA where she performed the role of Unniarcha, a female warrior from Kerala folklore.
The talk titled “Feminism Under Conflict” began with a short history of the feminist movement and went on to explore the contesting ideas of feminism in the current socio- political scenario. The participants were invited to present their diverse perceptions and definitions of feminism. The ‘conflicts’ faced by a woman ranging from the everyday battles to wars fought on grounds of religion and ethnicity were explored. Students shared their experiences of various kinds of discrimination faced in their families such as son preference, lack of encouragement from family members especially the elderly to pursue higher education far away from their homes, the opportunities that they lost owing to lack of self worth. Some also shared positive stories of female role models in their families such as mothers, sisters, aunts, and female friends who stood up for their rights, scaled new heights and proved their worth in different walks of life from sports to academia to politics. The speaker further delved into the idea of ‘stereotypes’ that engender ‘prejudices’ and lead to ‘discrimination’. Once again, personal stories shared by members of the audience served as a pivot to explore gender stereotypes prevalent in our society.
The talk was succeeded by a Q and A session with the author. The concept of ‘female agency’ and ‘feminazi’ were discussed. The author deliberated on the need to incorporate the third gender in discussions as well as social spaces. The event ended with a book signing session and a short student interview with the author.
OUTCOMES OF THE EVENT
Outcome 1: Understand the position of women caught in conflict
Outcome 2: Appreciate the role of fiction in foregrounding the refugee crisis
Outcome 3: Explore techniques employed by successful novelists