‘We are creating a space for dialogue so women don’t have to shout to be heard’

Anjali Jhangiani
Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Ahead of the Women Writers Festival Pune, we catch up with Shaili Chopra, founder, SheThePeopleTV, to know about the event and the ideology of the platform

Shaili Chopra founded SheThePeopleTV, which has become India’s largest women’s channel in a span of three years as a platform for women. “We thrive on dialogue that questions the status quo so far as women are concerned. “We have become the go-to platform for badass conversations that question conformist perspectives on what women should and should not do. Through media coverage, opinions and ideas, events like Women Writers Festival and the online safety summit for women, we have been able to drive home the point that women’s voices matter, big time,” says Chopra. 

The women and their stories

She talks about how her journey, and the channel’s, has been rewarding and challenging at the same time. “We have built a formidable community of women who believe in us and we are together out there to tell the stories of millions of women in India. Every story must be told and we are here to share them with the world,” says she.

The channel has established itself well in urban cities as a platform that champions real women and brings them together to empower, engage, and elevate each other. “We have a brilliant combination of O to O meaning online to offline. As we expand, you could see us moving into many more cities, expanding in many languages and having meaningful and powerful conversations with different communities to break stereotypes,” says she.

Apart from urban areas like Mumbai, Pune, Gurugram and Bengaluru, SheThePeopleTV makes its presence felt in Tier two and Tier three cities as well. “One of the events we do is the Boost Your Business programme with Facebook. And in the days ahead, expect to take the Women Writers Festival along with another programme we conduct on Safety with Google to smaller cities,” informs Chopra. 

Bridging the gender gap

Chopra picks the economic argument as a brilliant way to look at the gender gap problem. “We can start narrowing this down out of necessity. Gender parity can boost India’s growth by 27 per cent. That’s a fantastic inspiration if we want to grab that opportunity and run with it. Given we rank 108 out of 144 on the gender parity index, we ought to get up and do something about it,” she points out. 

She talks about how women make for 600 million of our population, which is nearly 10 per cent of the world’s population. Does that math compel you enough? “It’s an inspiration for us at SheThePeople to put India’s women out there in terms of their breakthrough ideas, their stories, their journeys, their strengths and vulnerabilities. We are a platform that celebrates both success and failure and finds ways to learn from every situation and experience. I believe that’s what makes women trust us and make us a valuable part of their lives,” says she. 

Women Writers Festival

The Women Writers Festival is a unique idea that’s been welcomed by women authors, writers and bloggers across India that will be held in the city this Saturday. “We see the need for a safe space for women to discuss and debate writings for and by women, issues important to women, and genres of women’s writing from business to erotica to relationships and horror, and celebrate each other in solidarity. We are creating a space for dialogue so women don’t have to shout to be heard, so they are not reduced to being moderators on panels as they are, on many other large festivals,” describes Chopra, adding, “Just because they aren’t titled Male Writers Fests, doesn’t mean they are doing justice to the idea of women’s writings. Enough examples about how the world of literature has its own patriarchy to deal with.”

While many professionals including filmmakers Patty Jenkins and Farah Khan, find the term ‘woman’ added 
before their profession to make them stand out and be categorised differently, off-putting, Chopra believes that only in an ideal world it would be apt to get rid of the tags that celebrate gender descriptions to achievements. “But are we in the ideal world? Is it not worth many accolades when a woman pilot flies a fighter jet in India for the first time? Would that story be inspiring if we remove the word woman? I think we need to know the context, we need to know our ‘his’tory and we need work towards a world where these descriptors will disappear. I also think women in position of privilege who have not faced discrimination and grown and achieved despite everything, should not impose the push for ‘neutral’ because the truth is women across India, in villages, in urban homes, in rich houses and poor homes, are all facing a lot of discrimination. So when a woman unshackles from that to win, we must remind the world it’s a woman who did it,” she ends. 

ST Reader Service

The Pune edition of the Women Writers Festival will be held at Kala Kollective, Ekbote Colony, off Shankar Sheth Road on September 8 at 10 am. The event is free and open for all with a mandatory registration on SheThePeople website.

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