By Sonal Rana
Revolution has gone digital. Using social-media activism, today’s young feminists are leading the way for a brighter, more equal future for women. Armed with hashtags and passion, these young women are helping their sisters speak up, stand up and shake up the status quo. (This is part one of a three-part series.)
Japleen is the founder of Feminism in India (FII), a digital intersectional feminist platform that’s available on all social-media sites, even a WhatsApp broadcast list. First created as a Facebook page in 2013, Feminism in India has come a long way and now has a large, extremely loyal following.
It all began when Japleen, who was a German Studies lecturer at JNU, Delhi, set out to explore the extensive domain of feminism, especially in India. To her disappointment, however, information about the topic was limited to dense theoretical articles.
Consequently, FII came into being with the clear objective of facilitating a free, easy-to-understand and accessible platform for feminist content, “written by Indian women for Indian women”, as Japleen puts it.
“The idea is to increase the representation of women and marginalized communities on the internet – their stories and histories. We amplify these usually unheard stories using digital storytelling techniques, pop culture references, and new media,” explains the 29-year-old.
But storytelling, despite its digitization, is a demanding business. As Japleen says, one big hurdle for all online platforms in today’s time is acquiring partners. She expands, “We find it difficult to find clients who want to pay for social media and digital security workshops as well as for issue-based campaigns. However, with a few highly successful campaigns in our portfolio and clear statistics on social media outreach and how they have impacted the audience, we are getting more successful at attracting partners.”
Another challenge, she says, is ensuring the resonance of the content put up by the FII team with those who need it the most. “Working in the social sector, it is important to keep building diversity and making sure that the privileged do not speak over the voices of the marginalized. The majority of our writers, while women, don’t belong to only the privileged section of society. We have, in fact, instituted an editorial policy in order to centre the voices of the marginalized,” she says.
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For your #FridayFeeling, #FIIRecommends Joy L.K. Pachuau's book "Being Mizo: Identity and Belonging in Northeast India". The ethnic and religious diversity of India is often portrayed as the hallmark of the Indian nation state. However, this diversity has very often not encompassed the Northeast. The history of the region has been ignored and has had to suffer an enduring silence. It has been said, the Northeast is 'on the map, but off the mind' so give this book a read to get to know the Mizos as a community better.
At FII, she adds, they ensure that “men will not speak for women, upper-castes will not speak for lower-castes and cis-heterosexual people will not speak for the queer community. For too long, dominant communities have controlled the narratives and the stories of marginalized communities.”
FII has uploaded nearly 200 articles so far, focusing on the perspectives of the marginalised. Topics go from gender-based school bullying, to marital rape, to sexism at work.
This is part one of the three-part series ‘Women For Women’ published in eShe’s September 2018 issue