THE BIRTH AND PURPOSE OF BLOG SYMPOSIUM “AFTERMATH”
by Dr. Bhavana Nissima
Dr. Bhavna Nissima holds a PhD in Communication from the University of New Mexico, U.S.A. and has taught several communication-related subjects in the United States and India for more than a decade. She is an NLP Trainer (IPANLP) and Master Practitioner (SNLP), having coached and trained with a multitude of International Trainers. She is also the Mental Space Psychology Ambassador in India and has founded the Indian Mental Space Academy.
Pandemic is a deceptive word. Like Lockdown or Economy or Rehabilitation or even this word – Problem. This is what nominalisations do—words that behave as nouns but have no clear tangible existence in the world. They become reflecting surfaces for mental projections on what they could possibly mean.
And in this complex social reflection of minds, which we call as social discourse, there exists a pattern of deletion. A pattern that repeatedly deletes the experiences, needs and triumphs of some members of the society. For example – gendered deletions.
I awoke to this rerun of gendered deletions in the Pandemic discourse when I came across a news report that the Government of India had not included Sanitary Napkins in its first list of essential items. And I asked myself—what else is being deleted in the chaos and what else will continue to be deleted beyond the lockdown?
And the next question was— what can I do about it?
I reached out to Dr Swarna Rajagopalan of Prajnya with a list of possible areas where women maybe impacted during and after the Pandemic. Dr Swarna not only listened to my concerns, she also got a team together to ideate on how we could take action. And one of the key members of this team was Nandhini Shanmugam who has mindfully curated and shaped this symposium.
As we dialogued, we realized there were many areas women were likely to be impacted due to Covid19 Pandemic. The very act of chunking down to the specifics—exactly in what area and in what way, women may be impacted, resourcefully or unresourcefully — collapsed the nominalisation. The complexity that is blunted out in reductive and generalized terms like Economy or Pandemic came alive – feeling, meaning, struggling, like creepers now emerging from under the bushes to the warmth of sunlight and air.
There were so many issues, some of which were getting highlighted like health needs and domestic violence. And several that were not in the forefront like land issues, water, relief and rehabilitation, women in the workplace, women in specific communities, women in NGOs, and the future of women in a Post-Pandemic World.
One of Prajnya’s core strengths has been in generating awareness about an issue, fostering communication and dialogue around it. In fact, one of the meanings of the name Prajnya is Awareness. Almost naturally, the next step was how do we raise awareness about this in our communities.
This is how this Blog Symposium Aftermath was born.
We wondered who could dive deep into each aspect that we had uncovered and provide high quality and reliable insights. An ambitious list was drawn up of thought leaders, activists, and champions who had worked in each of these areas for a considerable period. And we reached out to them. Many responded kindly and generously.
This blog symposium has gained its flesh and blood through its contributors. We hope we have created a repository of high-quality articles that you can use as reference for further work or perhaps as a space for reflection and pause.
You could choose to start here with Dr. Vibhuti Patel’s overarching essay on Gender Implications of COVID-19 Pandemic and Challenges for Community Interventions. Or this profound study on the COVID-19 The New Normal: Militarization and Women’s New Agenda in India by Dr. Asha Hans. Or this sharp critique, The Covid-19 Camouflage, on the widening structural divide during Covid-19 Lockdown by Dr. Ritu Dewan.
Or maybe choose to read through Women and Water: Challenges ahead amid COVID-19 by Dr. Ruchi Shree and Protecting women’s land rights in the times of a pandemic by Dr. Girija Godbole.
Perhaps you will dwell on the Impact of COVID -19 Lockdown on Women with Disabilities in India by Dr. Asha Hans and on Dealing with domestic violence during a pandemic by Swetha Shankar.
May we invite you to pause on this article, Invest in women, now! by Suneeta Dhar? And on how the Pandemic Threatens Jobs and Hard-Won Rights of Women in Media by Divya Chandrababu and Durga Nandini.
Perhaps you can rest here and celebrate with Sairee Chahal as she explores the upsides of the pandemic times for Sustaining gender ratio in the workplace. And how women in Kashmir turned around the Lockdown period through adaptation and community in this article, The Power of Solidarity: Women in Kashmir in Pandemic Times, by Dr. Sehar Iqbal.
And then perhaps continue to ponder on The Lawless World of Women’s Work by Dr. S. Shakthi and “Work from home” and the challenge of preventing workplace sexual harassment by Dr. Anagha Sarpotdar. And the by Sheelu Francis of Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective and “Including the Excluded” Must Be Mantra of Post-COVID Rehabilitation by Dr. Fatima Burnad.
We hope that you will read and further amplify the issues raised and ideas presented in this Blog Symposium—share in your networks, maybe write/speak/converse on the topics, maybe add in your lived experiences and help this repository multiply through the ecosystem.
No More Deletions.
No More Second List.
We ask that when you share on social media to please use the hashtag #Aftermath #Gender so we can easily stream the knowledge assets.
On behalf of Prajnya, I thank all our contributors for bringing their experience and expertise through these articles. And we are grateful to all voices that couldn’t be present in the current repository but exist somewhere in this world.
We make community and we change our world together.