News media and Feminism in India
This week the ICTforWomanity network takes us to India to discover Japleen Pasricha, a young feminist activist based in New Delhi. Japleen runs India’s first crowdsourced, and award-winning digital intersectional feminist platform – Feminism in India, which amplifies the voices of women and marginalized communities using art, media culture, technology and community.
Womanity: How is “Feminism in India” using ICT/New media to impact on women and girls?
Japleen Pasricha: We are the first digital and intersectional feminist platform in India to use new media and technology to drive the point home. We want to digitise the feminist revolution and make this information accessible and free for all on our platform. We use simple technologies such as blogging, social media, graphic visuals, audio and video to make our voices heard and amplify our work ten-folds.
W: Where does your platform most fit in, in the scope of the media tools available to help prevent violence against women?
JP: Our platform offers a mishmash of all these tools, to say broadly.
We have a section dedicated to survivors on our platform where they can write, publish and share personal narratives of survivor stories, anonymously or otherwise. The aim of this section is to shift the onus from the victim/survivor to the perpetrator, because the shame is not ours.
We are a feminist media platform, hence advocacy is a major part of our work. Apart from using social media channels, we also curate a closed feminist group on Facebook with more than 10K members. This group serves as a safe space for survivors, activists and anyone who wants to learn and engage with feminism and ICTs.
Our platform also serves as a resource channel for survivors, activists, students and young professionals, whether it is laws, helpline numbers, networking with one another or access to information, we provide them all.
W: Can you share a short story of success that your venture triggered?
JP: We started in August 2014 and by the end of the year within five months, we were able to crowdsource and publish 75 stories from 40 writers. (FII counts over 50 writers now). Read the stories here.
We also successfully organised and executed our first campaign collecting survivor stories in Nov-Dec 2014 which later won a prestigious media award in March 2016. One of the success stories during the campaign was that it made one survivor to lift the veil of shame and realise it was not her fault, it never was. She was earlier hesitant in talking about her experience, but when she saw other survivor stories pouring in, it gave her the courage to write about it.
W: Where can we read more about your achievements and pivotal moments?
JP: We are less than 2 years old and have received a lot of recognition. We received our first award – the Manthan Award – in December 2015 –, which recognises social innovations for social good.
I also represented Feminism in India at RightsCon 2016 – a global conference on tech and human rights – and talked about our work with Gender, Media and ICTs:
Words are powerful, and how mainstream media talks, writes, represents and reports on gender and gender-based violence makes a huge impact on how people perceive it. The presentation was showing how Indian as well as international media has misrepresented and misreported gender and gender based violence. A special focus was brought on social media and platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and how they silence the voices of women and sexual minorities, the rise of Islamophobia in the global North, and how media helps in promoting the same. At the end of the presentation, we recommended best practices on how media can improve reportage on gender and gender-based violence and implement ethical journalism.
Research on Cyber VAW in India
In collaboration with Freedom House, a non-profit organisation based in the US, Feminism in India has conducted a survey with 500 women and wrote a research report on online abuse and harassment against women in India.
You will find more information on the report here.
At FII, we are also running a campaign #DigitalHifazat around this issue.
W: Who would you love to have at the table, to improve women’s safety using ICT’s/New Media?
JP: I’d definitely like to work with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter since social media is very important for our work. I’d also like to work with Free Press Unlimited, Association for Progressive Communications (APC), and Access Now at the intersections of media, technology, digital security and gender.