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Speakers & Artists
BIC celebrates women, freedom and equality with day-long events that highlight the strengths and vulnerabilities of women and busts myths and stereotypes of gender. Art, music, photography, theatre, books, discussions, films, workshops and food, there is something for everyone.
All day events:
10:30 am – 9:00 pm* (Foyer) Pathbreakers: The 20th Century Muslim Women of India
*Walk through with Dr. Syeda Hameed and Avni Sethi at 1:30 pm-2:30 pm
In collaboration with the Muslim Women’s Forum
During and after the freedom struggle, many Muslim women shed the purdah and became partners in the project to free and build a new India. Writers, teachers, lawyers and politicians, these women believed in equal rights for women and worked to make it a reality in several political and social fields but many got forgotten with time.
This exhibition which remembers them, is not just a step in refuting myths that stereotype Muslim women but is also an inspiration to younger generations.
*This exhibition continues till Friday, March 12, 2020
10:30 am – 9:00 pm* (Gallery) Self Reimagined- A photo exhibition by Clare Arni
Gallery walk with Clare Arni at 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The photographs in the exhibition are from a workshop Clare Arni and Varuni Mohan conducted with the class 9 girls of RBANMS High School, Bangalore. They discussed themes of women’s empowerment in an Indian context and looked at Indian women achievers throughout history to learn about how they succeeded in their various fields in what was a male dominated society. They also examined cultural definitions of beauty and fairness, the preference for the boy child and what roles are expected of them as women. Clare then created a pop up studio within the school and took photographs of the girls to further explore these themes.
*Please note that this exhibition extends to the next day- Monday 9th March 2020
10:30 am – 9:00 pm (Second Floor Foyer) “Is it the same for you” exhibition of illustrations by Priya Sebastian
In collaboration with the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan
This beautiful volume authored by Neha Singh, illustrated by Priya Sebastian, and published by Seagull Books, is a tender attempt in imagining the different strands of a young life in Kashmir—a place where the inner conflicts of voiceless, adolescent girls are often overshadowed by the political, religious, and military conflicts that are now a constant in everyday life.
10:30 am – 7:00 pm (1st Floor Foyer) Funky Rainbow- The Travelling Children’s Bookshop
Funky Rainbow will hold workshops for children and adults, and set up a reading corner with a colourful, curated collection of children’s books. #Workshop details below.
10:30 am – 9:00 pm (Foyer) Women in Focus Pop-up by Champaca – Selection of books by women writers and poetry readings
Champaca’s pop-up bookstore will feature a highly curated selection of our favourite fiction and non-fiction by women and about women. From 5.15 to 6.00pm, they will host a poetry reading by three talented women poets from the city – Poornima Laxmeshwar, Pooja Ugrani, and Devyani Srinivasan.
10:00 am -10:00 pm BIC Café– Restaurant open for lunch and dinner/Snacks available all day
Panel discussions, film screening, music and theatre-
10.30 am – 11:15 am (Auditorium) Vachanas | MD Pallavi
The Vachanakaras of the 12th century argued, fought and sang for dignity, equality and progressive thought. It was a movement where the cobbler, the boatman, the potter, the prostitute, the sweeper, all met at Anubhava Mantapa, the temple of experience and intellectually engaged each other’s ideas. A movement that strived for equality of gender and class. MD Pallavi will sing a selection of vachanas by Akka, Lingamma, Neelamma, Basavanna, Allamaprabhu, Jedara Dasimaiah, Sule Sankavva and Gogavva.
11.15 am – 12:45 pm (Auditorium) Men Too Can Cry – Is a post patriarchal world emerging? Dr. Shekhar Seshadri, Atiya Bose & Akshat Singhal in conversation with Rohini Nilekani
Is masculinity a social construct? Does patriarchy put too much pressure on boys to “be a man”. How do men negotiate a world in which a woman’s place is no longer confined to the home. A panel discussion exploring new possibilities.
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Hall 2) ನಮ್ಮ ನಡೆ ಸಮಾನತೆ ಕಡೆ – Striding Towards an Equal Future | Sreelakshmi Gururaja & Priyanka, Sampangi and Pavitra Dharma in conversation
In collaboration with Radio Active
A platform for sharing stories and experiences of women who have dared to challenge gender stereotypes, a forum for open conversations that are informative and empowering.
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm (Hall 1) Is Masculinity in Crisis (Documentary screening)
A documentary that explores men negotiating narrow definitions of masculinity
4:00 pm – 5:35 pm (Hall 1) Dukthar I Directed, produced and written by Afia Nathaniel
2014 I 93 minutes I Pakistan I Urdu & Pashto with English subtitles
A young mother embarks on a desperate quest for freedom when she kidnaps her 10-year-old daughter to save her from a tribal marriage.
5:00 pm – 6:15 pm (Auditorium) Happily Unmarried | Nisha Susan chats with Kalpana Sharma, Sharda Urga and Latha Reddy
Conversations with women who have bucked the norm and lived it up, to tell the tale. Inspired by an anthology of essays by unmarried women of varying ages, “Single by Choice” edited by Kalpana Sharma.
6.30 pm – 7:10 pm (Auditorium) Keynote address by Priya Ramani | The Other 50 Percent is Speaking Loud and Clear. Are You Listening?
7:30 pm – 8:45 pm (Auditorium) ‘No Rest in the Kingdom’- Performed by Deepika Arwind | Produced by Sandbox Collective
‘No Rest in the Kingdom’, a devised, physical theatre performance, came out of the need to have a conversation about the daily and dangerous misogynist we are complicit in perpetrating. The performance looks at the female performer’s body as a site of protest and allows it to embody characters — male, female and feline – that imagines itself as fluid and empowered. A dark comedy, ‘No Rest in The Kingdom’ draws from the lives of urban characters who speak similar languages of consumerism and technology.
#Workshops by Funky Rainbow:
|GIRLS = BOYS|
Age: 5-10 years
|Join author, storyteller and dramatist Poile Sengupta as she narrates a medley of stories that break gender stereotypes and inspire girls and boys to be the best they can be!|
12:00 am-1:00 pm
|GIRLS TO THE RESCUE|
Age: For adults of all ages
|If the girls and women you’ve met in books so far have mostly been shrinking violets, princesses waiting for Prince Charming, girls dressed in pink, and women whose places are at home, it is time to restock your bookshelves! Join author-editor-book lover Vidya Mani as she introduces you to feisty female protagonists from Indian children’s and young adult books, who are much like the girls and women we know in our own lives.|
12.15 pm to 1.15 pm
|GET, SET, GRAFFITI!|
Age: 8-13 year-olds
|Join illustrator-art director-photographer Greystroke for a fun and freewheeling art session to celebrate girl power! Get tips and tricks to create your own artwork that will fit into a nifty graffiti display.|
In City of Women, we explore the calculated strategies, backdoor negotiations, and often absurd lengths women go to have fun and feel free in their city. It is inspired by the fact that urban Indian women are rarely captured in the act of spending time in their city: of revelling, discovering, loitering, adventuring or doing whatever they want.
As the idea for the show evolved it became clear that we should explore the relationship between women and the cities they live in – from the stolen moments to the mad plans hatched to find joy and pleasure, to the monologues that women have with themselves while trying to find freedom. The show brings listeners stories of different women from Bangalore – stories of economic freedom, of visiting new places, of shenanigans and adventures, experienced alone or with friends, and of doing very many simple things. Because, every Indian woman knows that being out in the city comes with rules – rules that determine who gets to be where and what you can and can’t do. What’s interesting though is how these rules get broken, bent, and jumped over when women decide to do things just for themselves.
Thumbnail and hero image illustrations by Priya Sebastian
Muslim Women’s Forum (MWF) is a not for profit organisation that was formed in 2000 by a group of concerned Muslim women and men. The aim of the Forum is to work for the empowerment, inclusion and education of Muslim women, including legal education. The primary function of the forum is to provide Muslim women a platform for expressing their aspirations and opinions on matters directly affecting their lives.
Sandbox Collective is a creative services organisation that curates, produces and tours performances. It acts as a catalyst facilitating meaningful collaborations nationally and internationally between artists, cultural agencies and arts spaces creating an explosion of innovation artistic expression.
Funky Rainbow is a travelling children’s bookshop and book consultancy run by children’s writers, illustrators and creative professionals with the aim of introducing books to young audiences. Our books are handpicked and curated for children in the age-group of 1-18 years and represent the best of Indian children’s writing. The bookstore carries a mix of both fiction and non-fiction titles that are not easily available in mainstream bookstores. Funky Rainbow recently won the Best Bookstore and Library, Bengaluru Award at the Kidsstoppress Awards 2018.
Champaca is an independent bookstore, children’s library and café. Champaca selects books with love and care and features books that speak of diverse experiences, places and perspectives from around India and the world. They hope to build a collection that gives everyone the joy of discovery.
The Goethe Institut/ Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore was founded in 1960 with the objectives of promoting the German language, fostering intercultural exchange and supporting local art initiatives and engaging with civic and urban issues.
Radio Active 90.4 MHz is Bangalore’s first community radio station, licensed to Jain University. Launched in 2007, the station caters to diverse and heterogeneous groups in Bangalore. Radio Active seeks to widen community’s involvement in broadcasting and to encourage communities to create and own their media landscape while acting as a catalyst in meaningful social transformation and development.
City of Women: City of Women is produced by Vaaka Media (the producers of In the Field and Sea Change).
Speakers & Artists
MD Pallavi is a singer, actor and filmmaker based out of Bangalore. She has a degree in Hindustani classical music from the Benares University. She won the State award for her song in the film Duniya, and the State Kempegowda Award for her contribution in the field of music. She has acted in Girish Kasaravalli’s Gulabi Talkies and Prakash Belawadi’s Stumble- both National award-winning films. She won the META Best Actress Award for her solo theatrical piece C Sharp C Blunt. She is keen on collaborations with multi disciplinary artists and her collaboration with Bindumalini has resulted in the much appreciated musical piece- Threshold.
Dr. Syeda Hameed is the Chancellor of the Maulana Azad University, Hydrabad, has a long and illustrious career as member of the Planning Commission, Chair of the Muslim Women’s Forum, Founder-trustee of Women’s Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) ; Member, Island Development Authority; Founder Trustee Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation and a Member of the National Commission for Women; she also holds several honorary positions as Chairperson at Born in Kashmir, she studied in Delhi a PhD form the University of Alberta, her interests span theatre and cinema, poetry and writing. She has written and co authored over 15 books including Beautiful Country: Stories from another India; Dr. Zakir Hussein : Teacher who became President and The contemporary relevance of Sufisim to name but a few. She has won many awards including the Padma Shri.
Avni Sethi is an interdisciplinary practitioner with her primary concern lying between culture, memory, space and the body. She conceptualised and designed the Conflictorium, a Museum of Conflict situated in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in 2013. The museum has since been home to diverse critical explorations on conflict transformation and art practice. She currently serves as its Artistic Director. Trained in multiple dance idioms, her performances are largely inspired by syncretic faith traditions and sites of contested narratives. She has been continually interested in exploring the relationship between intimate audiences and the performing body.
Priya Ramani is a veteran journalist, editor, commentator. Her varied career has included stints as equities reporter for Reuters, editor of Cosmopolitan and nearly a decade as one of the founding editors of Mint newspaper. She conceptualised and ran the successful Mint Lounge weekend newspaper. She also held senior editorial positions at Elle magazine, The Indian Express Newspaper and digital first publishing startup Juggernaut. She’s best known for launching new projects and revamping existing news products. She is based in Bangalore and writes a weekly column for Mint. She is on the editorial board of the newly launched journalism initiative Article14.
Rohini Nilekani is Founder-Chairperson, Arghyam, a foundation she endowed to fund initiatives for sustainable water and sanitation across India. From 2004 to 2014, she was Founder-Chairperson of Pratham Books, a non-profit children’s publisher. She is Co-founder-Director of EkStep, a non-profit education platform.
A former journalist writing for leading publications, she is also the author of “Stillborn” and “Uncommon Ground”, both published by Penguin Books India. In 2017, she was inducted as Foreign Honorary Member of the AmericanAcademy of Arts and Sciences.
As signatories of the Giving Pledge, Rohini and Nandan Nilekani have committed half their wealth to philanthropy.
Dr Shekhar Seshadri is a graduate of Maulana Azad Medical College,Delhi and a postgraduate in Psychiatry from National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS),Bangalore. He is currently Senior Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Associate Dean of Behavioural Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore. Besides working with child and adolescent mental health including developmental disabilities, he is actively involved in the areas of gender and sexualities, violence/trauma and abuse, children in difficult circumstances, juvenile justice, experiential methodologies, school programmes/teacher training in life skills education,Community and school mental health programmes, forum theatre and qualitative research.
Executive Director, Aangan, Atiya has worked with marginalized populations in the US and India on securing human rights focusing on access to justice and opportunity for the last 20 years. Her current preoccupation is making child protection everyone’s business. She focuses on engaging government and law to advance children’s rights and protection, and demonstrate the power of the ‘non-expert’ in a community-based prevention model to combat serious child harm.
Atiya’s policy advocacy work includes serving on governmental committees – Ministry of Women and Child Development ‘s Working Group for Child Rights (Twelfth Five Year Plan); the Juvenile Justice Act Review Committee; Convenor, expert committee on Model Homes. In 2009 she led Aangan’s partnership with UNICEF in the creation of a Standards of Care Tool for children’s institutions in the juvenile justice system. She has engaged in national advocacy and training on issues of youth offending and rehabilitation and establishing standards of care for children in institutions and other alternative care settings. Her research and publications include studies of probation in India and due process within the juvenile justice system.
Akshat Singhal is a co-founder of The Blue Ribbon Movement (BRM) and co-leads The Gender Lab – which works towards empowering adolescents and young adults to question existing gender narratives through critical thinking and meaningful engagement with their communities. It has worked with 35000+ adolescents in more than 200 schools across Mumbai, Delhi and Haryana.
Akshat has a decade of experience in the social sector engaging in the space of gender equality, youth leadership, climate change, peace building, active citizenship and social entrepreneurship.
He is an alumnus of World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers network, an UnLtd India fellow and Asia Foundation Development Fellow.
Clare Arni is a photographer based in Bangalore, India. Her work encompasses, social documentary and cultural heritage. She has been published by leading British book publishers Phaidon, Thames and Hudson and Dorling Kindersley. She has also contributed work to magazines like Abitare (Italy) Tatler, Conde Nast (UK) Wallpaper, The Wall street journal and Harvard Design magazine as well as many Indian magazines. Her solo photographic books document the history of the architecture of Banaras, Palaces of the Deccan, the recent excavations of Hampi, the capital of the Vijaynagar Empire and a four month journey along the course of the river Kaveri. Her solo exhibitions document the lives of marginalized communities in some of the most remote regions of India and the disappearing trades of urban India. Her work has been exhibited Internationally at the Essl Museum, Vienna Austria, Grosvenor Vadehra, London, Bose Pacia, New York, Berkeley art museum, California and is the permanent collection of the Saatchi Gallery, London, the Freer/Sackler gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Computer-scientist-turned-filmmaker, Afia loves pushing the boundaries of narrative film. Her debut feature film DUKHTAR (Daughter) premiered at Toronto in 2014 and become Pakistan’s Official Submission for Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards®. The film has played to critical acclaim in over 20 countries and is the recipient of several awards including Audience Award for Best Feature at Creteil, Best World Feature at Sonoma, Best Director and Best Feature Film at SAIFF.
Afia directed NADAH which premiered at Rotterdam and LONG AFTER, a ghost story of love and loss, earned kudos at Montreal. She also made an experimental black comedy, adapted from one of the much loved short stories of Saadat Hasan Manto’s TOBA TEK SINGH which explores the dilemma of identity of a lunatic in an asylum caught in the bloody aftermath of the partition of India and Pakistan.
Afia has been featured in the New York Times, Indiewire and Screen International. Variety says, “Nathaniel proves her mettle in a national industry where distaff directors are rare” with Indiewire labeling DUKHTAR as “groundbreaking” calling it “art and social change united in harmony via soulful storytelling”. She has been featured on Fox 5 in a special segment as “Women who shape the future”.
Afia is a 2010 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow, a 2004 World Studio Foundation Fellow, a 2003 American Association of University Women International Fellow, a 2003 James Wolfensohn Fellow (MMMF) and recipient of the 2005 Hollywood Foreign Press Association grant and 2005 Ezra Litwak for Distinction in Screenwriting award. Recently, she was honoured with the Adrienne Shelly award for Directors and was shortlisted for a Gotham award in 2013.
Now based in New York, Afia teaches screenwriting at Columbia University and has mentored several student filmmakers in the US and Pakistan.
Kalpana Sharma is an independent journalist and author based in Mumbai. In over four decades as a journalist specialising in developmental and environmental issues as well as gender, she has worked with Himmat Weekly, Indian Express, The Times of India and The Hindu. She was also Consulting Editor with Economic & Political Weekly and Readers’ Editor with Scroll.in.
Her latest book is “The Silence and the Storm: Narratives of violence against women in India” (2019). She is also the author of “Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories from Asia’s Largest Slum” (2000). In addition, she has edited “Single by Choice, Happily Unmarried Women” (2019) and “Missing: Half the Story, Journalism as if Gender Matters” (2010), and co-edited “Whose News? The Media and Women’s Issues” (1994/2006), and “Terror Counter-Terror: Women Speak Out” (2003).
Latha Reddy is the former Deputy National Security Adviser of India where she was responsible for cybersecurity and other critical internal and external security issues. She also served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on Internet Governance.
Ms. Reddy served in the Indian Foreign Service from 1975-2011. During her diplomatic career she served in Lisbon, Washington D.C., Kathmandu, Brasilia, Durban, Vienna and Bangkok. She served as Ambassador of India to Portugal (2004-2006) and to Thailand (2007-2009). She was Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi (2010-2011) with overall charge of India’s bilateral and regional relations with Asia. She was then appointed as India’s Deputy National Security Advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office from 2011-2013.
Ms. Reddy has extensive experience in foreign policy, and in bilateral, regional and multilateral negotiations. In addition, she has expertise on security and strategic issues and has worked on strategic technology policies, particularly on cyber issues relating to cyber security policy, international cyber cooperation and Internet governance.
Ms. Reddy is involved with several organizations and think-tanks, both globally and in India. She is currently, among other positions, serving as a Distinguished Fellow in the EastWest Institute in the US and the Observer Research Foundation in India.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor for ESPNcricinfo.com and ESPN.in, ESPN’s multisport website. A sports journalist for more than three decades, she has worked with Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day, national daily The Hindu and India Today magazine before joining ESPN. She has written and spoken about issues around Indian sport at home and abroad. She worked with former New Zealand captain John Wright on John Wright’s Indian Summers, his memoirs of his years coaching India and with Yuvraj Singh on The Test of My Life, an account of his diagnosis and recovery from cancer. She was a fellow of the Australia India Institute, University of Melbourne in 2013.
Nisha Susan is a writer and editor. She grew up in India, Nigeria and Oman and lives in Bangalore. She is the co-founder of two award-winning media companies, The Ladies Finger and Grist Media. She currently writes Cheap Thrills, a column on millennials, time and obsessions for Mint Lounge. She was formerly Features Editor, Tehelka magazine and also commissioning editor for Yahoo! Originals, a longform destination for Yahoo! India. Her non-fiction is focused on culture, gender and politics. Her fiction has been published by n+1, Caravan, Penguin, Zubaan and others and often explores the intimacy and strangeness that the internet has brought to India. Her first collection of short fiction The Women Who Forgot to Invent Facebook & Other Stories is forthcoming. (Context, August 2020).
Deepika Arwind is a theatre-maker based in Bangalore, who works under the banner of The Lost Post initiative, a fluid collective that collaborates with diverse artists, mostly around gender. She has won, and been nominated for several awards for her work. Her current shows (touring internationally) include No Rest in the Kingdom ( produced by Sandbox Collective); and I am not here, designed as an 8-step guide in how to censor women’s writing (supported by the Goethe-Institut,MMB). She has been part of many international residencies and collaborations (Germany, France, USA) and is the author of the children’s book Sarayu (Le Cosmographe Éditions;2018)
Shyam Madhavan Sarada
Greystroke aka Shyam Madhavan Sarada is an author, illustrator and storyteller, among other things. He is a self-taught artist who has been drawing “ever since he can remember”. He has illustrated over 250 stories since he started off as an illustrator in 1995 with a cartoon column for the Indian Review of Books. Since then, he has worked with several leading children’s publishers on books and magazines. His latest book, Four, has been published by Tulika Publishers. When he isn’t doing all this, he takes photographs and makes films.
Vidya Mani is a children’s writer and editor, who wears many hats. She runs a content and design studio called Melting Pot that creates children’s books and magazines for publishers and NGOs. She is one of the founder-members of Funky Rainbow, a travelling bookshop that puts out a curated collection of Indian children’s books at various spaces across the country. She is also the managing editor of the children’s book review site, Goodbooks. Vidya believes that reading is like biting into an eclair – it shows you there’s a whole world of chocolate out there waiting to be eaten!
Priya Sebastian’s illustrations are known for their beauty, depth and power. The clarity of voice in these illustrations have a strong impact on the viewer and resonate in the mind long after. Priya’s work has appeared in leading publications in the country including The Indian Quarterly, Verve and The Caravan. In Aug 2017, Priya was invited to make 3 illustrations for prize winning entries in The Commonwealth Writer’s blog, Adda, to remember 70 years of Partition. In May 2018, a six page interview featuring her work appeared in POOL magazine. “Is It The Same For You?” a book illustrated by Priya Sebastian, and published by Seagull Books was released in December 2019, a result of a workshop organized by Goethe Institut, Kolkata. Her work can be found on https://priyasebastianillustrations.tumblr.com/
Sampangi is an example of how women from any background can break the barriers of gender, caste and class to become successful entrepreneurs, by creating an ecosystem of mentorship and recognition.
Pavithra is a graduate of liberal arts from Kuvempu University, Shimoga. She is currently doing her Master of Business Application in Human Resource Management from Gitam University. Her interests lie in public service, especially with regard to the environment and the responsible use of natural resources so as to minimise damage to the environment, and to ensure these resources are available for future generations. She is also attempting to solve problems in the field of agriculture using traditional, organic and permaculture principles so as to promote economic, social and environmental sustainability. She has worked in the EcoGram project right from its inception that aims towards creating a model Gram Panchayat in terms of waste, water and soil management. Pavithra wears many hats be it managing her father’s farm, taking care of her daughter and family, doing an exceptional job at the EcoGram project or studying.