We The Women: An empowering dialogue by women who made a difference

Opening doors, Barkha Dutt curated a participatory one-day event for Facebook and UN Women, extending courage and strength to young girls and women who dream and want to take a stand.

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The second edition of We The Women – a unique, one-day participatory, created and curated by Barkha Dutt for Facebook & UN Women revived on November 25, 2018 at Mehboob Studio, Bandra.

Aptly coined on the theme #openingdoors and #breakingbarriers, the one-day festival brought together a diverse group of exemplary men and women from all walks of life. The star-studded stage saw people like Poonam Mahajan (Member of Parliament), Khushbu Sundar (All India Congress Committee spokesperson and star campaigner), Waheeda Rehman, Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar (Film Director & Producer), Dia Mirza, Richa Chadha, Taapsee Pannu, Gul Panag, Schauna Chauhan (CEO of Parle Agro) and Geeta Phogat (Indian Wrestler) amongst other.

On an empowering note, with the stage clad with doors signifying the idea of 'Breaking Barriers',  'We The Women' brought to the audience a liberated experience, extending courage to young girls and women who dream of freedom and independence. Remarkably, the event saw some men who came forward in support of the opposite sex, talking about the Me Too movement, women empowerment. Celebrating the spirit of the women who made a difference, they had stories from different walks of life. Surpassing biases and social norms, these women had been the epitome of chivalry in a male dominated society, turning the tables around in an environment skewed towards patriarchy. 

Dalit women’s band from Bihar who drummed their empowerment at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

Indian Wrestler Geeta Phogat at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

Reflecting larger global and national conversations, ‘We the Women’ forum exchanged dialogues and emphasized on various topics like ‘Breaking Barriers in Bollywood’, ‘Virtual World. Real Equality’, ‘Are Women Leaders Different From Men?’, ‘Shutting Doors at Sabarimala’, ‘My Body, My Choice: Let’s Talk Abortion’ and more.

Khushbu Sundar (All India Congress Committee spokesperson and star campaigner), Sangeeta Thakur (Sarpanch), Poonam Mahajan (Member of Parliament) at We The Women

Discussing about women empowerment in politics during the session titled ‘Politics: Still a Boys’ Club?’  Poonam Mahajan, Member of Parliament said, “What women will do in politics is not a phenomenon of just village but for every region. Women candidates should step forward willingly and fearlessly put extra effort to serve the society regardless of all the odds.”

LtoR - Farhan Akhtar, Milind Deora and Cyrus Broacha at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

At the panel on ‘What #MeToo means for men’, Indian Actor Farhan Akhtar said, “behaving at the cost of getting into trouble is not behaving. It is the integrity which everyone should get from within.” In the wake of the wavelets of #MeToo movement in India Cyrus Broacha stressed on women to be more ferocious and fight the nuisance that they face. He also hinted men to be more careful and watch their action.

Additionally, an unrivalled platform highlighted Dhanya Ravi's extraordinary battle against genetic deformity, showcased melodious performance of Dalit women’s band from Bihar who drummed their empowerment on the stage. Moreover, many extraordinary and unusual stories were shared at the forum.

The legendary Indian actress Waheeda Rehman expressed her views on progressive society while having a conversation on the panel of ‘Being a Woman: Then and Now’ and said, “make your own rules for own safety. Stand your grounds at work and don’t fear for your right gestures and action."

The second edition of ‘We The Women’ hosted motivational session like ‘Wrestling with Sexism - and Winning’, discussed what feminism means for the new generation, shared personal stories on #MeToo revolution and what’s to come.

Dia Mirza at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

Talking about abortion Dia Mirza shared her views and said, “we have cultivated the culture of silence and there are topics regarding women health which the society has been ignorant about.”  Speaking about #MeToo revolution Mahesh Bhupati expressed his stand and said, “everyone to know the line of consent.”

Karan Johar at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

Indian Film Director and Producer, Karan Johar spoke about parenthood and said not to be mediocre. “let your kids do what they want to do. Don’t put them in the boxes of thought of what is allowed as a boy and what is allowed as girl.” Speaking on the current Supreme Court verdict on sec 377 he said, “he wept as soon as he hear the news.” His remarkable comments on how to overcome mental health, breaking the stereotype of man role and how it is evolving with the time made audience cheer for him.  He also spoke about his choice of lifestyle he always loved to live during the session titled ‘The Myth of Masculinity’ and said, “masculinity and femininity is about being comfortable in your skin.”

Taapsee Pannu at Mumbai edition of We The Women curated by Barkha Dutt

The forum culminated with Richa Chadha, Taapsee Pannu, Masaba Gupta discussing on what feminism means for the new generation. During the discussion Masaba Gupta said, “I was born in a home where there was a lot of honesty and there was nothing said in hushed tones. Human beings crave clarity and I had the privilege of that clarity from a very young age.”

Expressing her views for a day-long participatory, Award-Winning Journalist Barkha Dutt said, “The aim of the festival is to provide a free space for everyone to meet and interact with brilliant female minds, and also hear the men who have stood up for women and feminist principles. ‘We The Women’ is a multi-city platform that promises great conversation to salute and celebrate women's indomitable courage and will, food, art, music and a flea market.”

The festival also honoured men and women who showed excellence in their areas, taking risks, battling the odds and coming their way to success. The food and flea market had popular and affordable brands on board and examples of extremely successful women-led enterprises. Lastly, the courtyard area with the food and flea was curated with interesting art installations by Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology and Sharper Design Studio.

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