70 years after Independence and Partition, a new generation of Indian and Pakistani women uses the digital age to subvert borders and build on earlier struggles
Two young women, a Pakistani and an Indian, have initiated a cross-border virtual event titled “FeministsUndivided – Cross Border Digital Conversations”, to take place on 14 and 15 August for feminists from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the South Asian diaspora.
The event creators, sociologists and writers Shilpa Phadke in Mumbai and Nida Kirmani in Lahore assert that the violence of 1947 that continues in the name of religion “is a feminist issue”.
“While the governments of both our countries try to divide us further for their own political gain, we refuse to accept these restrictions to our communication, collaboration and to our mutual commitment to the project of transformation”, they say in their introductory note.
The digital world provides “a space where we have been able to subvert divisive visa regimes”. This space enables women to come together and “collectively reflect on the events of 70 years ago”, talk about what the divisions mean today, and why it is important “to try to stay united as feminists across national borders”.
The upcoming event is “an opportunity to reflect on our collective struggles and to stand united as South Asian feminists against these division… The idea is to flood the Internet with our voices during these two days to remember the past and to voice our own hopes, agendas and perhaps even to celebrate our capacity to collaborate across our very fraught borders”.
Using different media, women may share stories of collective struggle and the inspirations drawn from feminists in other parts of South Asia, talk about the collaborations they have engaged in across borders and underline the need to build bridges and to give voice to dissent, “to stand up and be counted”.
While “living through dark times on either side of the border”, say the event creators, “there is a need to remind ourselves of all of the work that has been done by women’s movements in our countries and all of the work that remains to be done”.
Acknowledging that women experience situations differently depending on caste, class, ethnicity, nationality, age, sexuality, and gender, they encourage women “to speak as feminists from your own particular experience and location”.
Email contributions to <[email protected]> — Shilpa Phadke is one of the authors of the book “Why Loiter?: Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets” (Penguin 2011). You can also post contributions to social media using the hashtag #FeministsUndivided. The team will make jpegs of artwork with credit to the creator. Some ideas:
* Create a one-minute video, taken on a mobile phone,
* Share a poem, a song, short prose (no more than 100 words), photos, artwork, or any other kind of creative form to express your feelings about this event.
* Create memes or gifs that reference our contemporary realities and speak to the idea of #FeministsUndivided
* Post links to fiction, feature pieces and academic writing that speak to feminist struggles in South Asia.
“Please use this as an opportunity to express yourself as a Subcontinental feminist and to tell those who have tried to divide us historically and who continue to do so, that we will resist these borders in whatever ways possible. As #FeministsUndivided we are indeed a force to be reckoned with”.
Participants can email contributions to <[email protected]>. On social media please use the hashtag #FeministsUndivided