International Literature Festival: Women authors call for gender equality in writing

Prominent female writers took a hard look at the prejudices against them and called for gender equality in writing at the three-day International Literature Festival which wrapped up in Shimla on Saturday.

A panel of scholars including Mridula Garg as chairperson and Geetanjali Shree and Varsha Adalja as discussants shared their views on ‘Women’s Writing in Indian Languages’.

“Writings or writers should never be discriminated against because of their gender. A writer or a poet is just that, but by creating a division by saying that she is a woman writer rather than talking about the genre of written expression, the focus is on the fact that she is a woman writer,” said Mridula, who has written in all genres in Hindi.

“No writer or creation is the same because they stem from different emotions, languages, experiences, expressions or feelings, so when we talk about women’s writing, it acts as a barrier to growth literature,” she said.

She added that she was invited to different countries where she spoke on a wide range of topics covering modernism, hedonism and the growth of creative works, but it was only the Sahitya Akademi who chose a such a derogatory subject by creating a prejudice against women, which should therefore be modified and removed.

Popular Hindi writer Geetanjali Shree, who won the International Booker Prize for his novel ‘Tomb of Sand’, has made a point about women writing saying that women writing is an injustice to women who try to express sensitivity and sensibility in their work.

She said books have different meanings for different readers, but the translation should have the life and soul of the original creation and the literature should be available in all languages.

She felt that the writer’s world should not be divided into languages. “The world should not be divided between English and other languages. We have a vibrant literature in all languages, but the lack of translators is an obstacle and publishers and other organizations should take a lead in this,” she said.

“It’s a forum that brings together writers from everywhere. Here you have the chance to discover each other’s literature. India is a big country and its literature is alive in many languages. It’s just a small drop in the ocean,” said Geetanjali Shree.

“We discussed how women’s literature and writing should be seen as part of the literary mainstream and not separately. I think something more should be done and there should be a lot more discussion. There will be many things that will be discussed and in literature all kinds of dialogues are possible,” she added.


    Gaurav Bisht heads the Himachal bureau of the Hindustan Times. He covers politics in the hill state and other issues concerning the masses.
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