Friday, November 23, 2007

Has Woman Movement in India come of Age?

Has Woman Movement in India come of Age?
Syed Ali Mujtaba

Has Woman Movement in India come of Age? Yes at least that’s what the poster exhibition on women movement in India reflects depicting the story of a silent revolution taking place in the country.

The Poster woman exhibition that opened up this week at the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi has a collection of nearly 1,500 posters, representing the women's movement in the country from the 1970s.

The posters visually map a history of the women's movement and some of the major campaigns that it tracks are violence against women, more specifically domestic violence, the anti-dowry and anti-rape campaigns, sexual harassment, literacy, health and reproductive rights, environment, religion and communalism, gender equality, rights of all kinds-land rights, rights of domestic workers, Dalits, working women, etc.

Some interesting insights are thrown up in these posters as to how ordinary women use their creative talents and artistic genius to disseminate information, create awareness, and generate consciousness about their life and work, their hopes and dreams, their struggles and achievements.

One could find a full story how handicrafts are used as an expression of women's sense of themselves. Women artisans from Bihar have produced a bedspread that documents the history of women from a fishing community. These embroidered figures tell the history how some of woman in aid with a woman help group were able to gain self-confidence in a past couple of years.

The entire exercise has been possible due to efforts made by Zubaan, an imprint of Kali for woman, India’s first feminist publishing house ( ‘Zubaan has been working on this project since 2004, and we are pleased that we can finally bring this wonderful exhibition,’ says its spokesperson Jaya Bhattacharji.

‘Collecting and documenting the posters has been hard work, but we've enjoyed the journey-and along the way we've learned a lot about Indian women's history too,’ she says.

Jaya narrates that the whole exercise would not have been possible without the active participation of many women's groups and individuals all over India whom Zubaan contacted to collect hundreds of posters. After the preliminary selection at the regional level, posters came to Zubaan for final screening and documentation. These were then sent for digitalization to ensure the best production values, she adds.

The Poster Woman exhibition was formally to be inaugurated by Vina Mazumdar and Shah Jehan Apa, two of the key woman activists of Delhi.

The exhibition will be traveling to different cities over the next few months in the country. It will open at the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishad, Bangalore, 8-14 November 2006. It will then travel to Chennai in early December. The Poster Women thereafter will be making its journey to Mumbai, Hyderabad and Calcutta as well.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He chanced to see Poster Woman exhibition during his visit to New Delhi. He can be contacted at

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