Women in India are a force and not a number: Shaili Chopra

Hyderabad: SheThePeople.TV brings the first edition of the Women Writers’ Festival 2019, Hyderabad edition, a day-long festival that puts the spotlight on authors, writers, bloggers, and in association with FICCI FLO Hyderabad, after three years of multi-city events across six cities in India. The festival held in the city today at Hotel Park, Somajiguda. 

This edition of the festival is curated by Founder Shaili Chopra and Ideas Editor Kiran Manral.

Welcoming the gathering Sona Chatwani, Chairperson of FICCI Ladies Organisation said, “ideas, when put into just the right words, have the power to transform the world. The Women Writers’ Festival will provide a forum for writers from a whole cross-section of fields and genres to come together and discuss issues that are important to the cultural and social fabric of the world we live in”. 

Speaking on the occasion Shaili Chopra, Founder of SheThe People.TV said it was a travelling festival. The festival took birth in 2016 and since then 18 editions of the festival held in many different cities. And it is expanding to more new cities. In the last three years, the festival reached 95 million women. Half of the 1.3 billion population of this country is women. Women in India are a force and not a number. With 720 women in our country, twice the size of the USA, thrice Japan and eight times Brazil. Women must be given their due prominence. SheThePeople. The TV is India’s biggest storytelling platform for women and inspires new dialogue, exchanges leadership ideas, fosters networking and reinforces the ability of women to contribute to growth, she said. 

Participating Fireside Chat with Shaili Chopra, Sonia Singh, responding to a question on Disha Rape Case, from one of the audience said, first reaction as woman and mother may be justice as done but then as a woman, mother and citizen straight away, you ask is this the justice? How do you even know they are guilty, we even gave terrorist Kasab a fair trial. 

People were seeking instant justice, which is not good in the long run for the nation. It is not good for the judiciary and nation as a whole. Nobody should be denied that right of fair trial.  Speaking further, she said, if women are safe, then men are safe.   

Sonia Singh, broke a glass ceiling and became an editorial director of NDTV. That was my defining moment in my life she shared while in conversation with Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople.TV, who conceptualized Women Writers’ Fest. 

Continuing her conversation, Sonia Singh said women athletes are the ones who are breaking more records than men now. It was not the case twenty years ago. There were no women sports stars to look-up to then. The very Hyderabadi girl, Sania Mirza, who used to admire Steffi Graf, is now admired by many in India. She is an iconic women sports star in the country.  

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When asked about deteriorating media credibility, Sonia said, once upon a time breaking news used to shook up the entire media office. But it is not any more. There is no big news in breaking news. TV is a powerful medium. It gives voice to the voiceless. Electronic media is a huge asset to India’s democracy. TV medium cannot be used as a mouthpiece of somebody. Television medium cannot be a public service for a private profit. Subscribers pay for BBC. New business models have to be evolved, she said. Today whatever is trending is the news. News of Police reforms will never trend, but, a horror rape or crime news in UP or Hyderabad is becomes trending. A journalist must report what is happening and not what people want to see or hear. Today we need intelligent Journalism.

The day-long Fest began with a Panel Discussion “We are the city”, curated and moderated by Pinky Reddy. Moderating it, she recalled her childhood memories in the city. There is no match to Hyderabad. A lot of people come and settle here. I used to write a bicycle on the roads of Banjara Hills, which I cant think of doing it now. 

Elehe Hiptoola, Co-founder of Lamakhan, a cultural space termed Hyderabad as the most inclusive city. It is a warm city and it is a happy city. 

It is not roads, building and structures make the city. It is the people who make the city observed Manchu Lakshmi, participating in the panel discussion moderated by Pinky Reddy. Hyderabad is a city of dreams, she added. 

Tara Deshpande, hotelier turned author described Hyderabad as a stunning city. I am fond of Rayalaseema ruchulu. I frequent Chutneys and Almond House in the city. 

The Women Writers Festival earlier held across Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Kolkata last year. This year Lucknow and Hyderabad are also added. Patna, Bhopal, Jaipur, Chennai, Chandigarh, Gurgaon, and Bhubaneswar are on the anvil. And the festival may travel to these cities shortly. 

Addressing the press conference before the beginning of the festival, at The Park, Ms Sona Chatwani, Chairperson, FICCI Ladies Organisations, Hyderabad Chapter and Ms Shaili Chopa, Founder SheThePeople gave the highlights of the fest. 

Throughout the festival, we will be celebrating female creativity and artistic achievements while discovering some of the best contemporary women authors around in India, they shared. 

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Adding further, Sona and Shaili informed that renowned anchor and editorial director of NDTV Sonia Singh will be a conversation with Shaili Chopra. 

A panel on ‘We Are The City’ curated and moderated by Pinky Reddy with Lakshmi Manchu and Elahe Hiptoola will be held during the day. 

India’s well known holistic health, well-being, wellness, and fitness guru Mickey Mehta will deliver a talk. A Fireside conversation/chat will be held with acclaimed Telugu poet and author Volga who is well known for her feminist perspective. 

Actress-turned-chef-turned-author Tara Deshpande’s will participate and speak on food trends. Many Contemporary Women Writers and poets from Hyderabad are also expected to take part. 

The festival featured speakers such as Volga, Dr T Vijay Kumar, Mickey Mehta, Tara Deshpande, , Kadali Sathyanarayana, Shajahana, Shilpa Suraj, Jhilum Chattaraj, Janani Rao, Kiran Manral, Shivani Mohan, Shikhandin, Nabina Das, Sophia Lorena Benjamin, Saima Afreen, Seetha Anand Vaidyam,

Swapnil Pandey, Anupama Dalmia, Shivani Mohan, Swati Rai, Bhargi Madhu, A.Mounika, Devika Das and more.

Writing has been a form of self-expression throughout history and women today are not afraid to pen down their story, create new ones, or share their intellect through their books, blogs or publications. 

The focus of the festival was Women’s Writings from Hyderabad. The fest provided a forum for women writers from varied fields to come together and discuss issues that are important to the cultural and social fabric of the city of Hyderabad. The diverse range of participants in each panel made for rich discussions on the feminine and the feminist voice in fiction, the culture of Hyderabad, food trends, blogging, nutrition and fitness, contemporary women’s writing, poetry and more, and is sure to inspire change.

Founder Shaili Chopra adds, “As I see it, Women Writers are breaking new ground as writers, scriptwriters, micro fiction bloggers, authors, graphic artists, storytellers. The Women Writers Fest endeavors to connect, engage and elevate this community and create an emerging platform of ideas. SheThePeople.TV through its curated events and community gatherings will continue to push boundaries and thinking on women’s issues. We will do everything to celebrate women and their efforts in different genres and sectors.”

Adds co-curator and Ideas Editor, SheThePeople.tv, Kiran Manral, “With this inaugural edition of the SheThePeople.TV Women Writers Fest in Hyderabad, we showcased the writing from women from the city across fiction, nonfiction, poetry, which reflects the rich culture, and showcase what makes the city and the writing that emerges from it, so very diverse and vibrant.”

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