Rapporteur: Suhasini Udayakumar
Japleen Pasricha smashes the patriarchy for a living. With an MPhil in German Studies, Japleen started her gender work with no formal degree in gender or women studies, but with plenty of fierceness and determination.
Her work first began as a Facebook page, which she kept running while doing her MPhil. She was all of 23 at the time and certain that social media activism goes a long way in amplifying pressing issues. She launched a personal blog where she shared her own experiences – sexual harassment on the streets and daily doses of misogyny that she was subject to, much like the majority of women in India.
Upon completing her MPhil, she began applying for work in gender-based NGOs but was rejected nearly always due to reasons of overqualification and lack of prior work experience in the field.
Her “breakthrough” came with Breakthrough India, an organisation working on the issue of domestic violence for over two decades. She joined them in Delhi as a part of their digital team. Although in love with the work, she wondered why the feminist discourse in India was dominated by western feminist ideas and media with very little Indian representation. There was no shortage of western feminist platforms while there was only a handful of such initiatives in India (Feminist India, Manushi and UltraViolet). Instead of bringing the global to the local, Japleen decided that the local needs to be taken to the global through a platform by and for young Indian women. Thus began Feminism in India.
Her initial observations from this initiative were that Indian women victims endured immense shame and blame due to their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. To break this silence, a few such women started sharing their stories on the platform, triggering FII’s cult popularity. Meanwhile, Japleen worked at Point of View, but at the end of 2015, when FII began to take off, she knew she had to quit her job to focus on the venture.
In the platform’s own words, “Feminism In India is an award-winning digital intersectional feminist media organisation to learn, educate and develop a feminist sensibility among the youth. It is required to unravel the F-word and demystify the negativity surrounding it. FII amplifies the voices of women and marginalised communities using tools of art, media, culture, technology and community.” The platform serves both pop culture and serious content. Its resources and articles on fashion, culture, travel, lifestyle, and reviews on books and films are known to go viral. Intersectionality is the platform’s biggest USP, with content on caste, conflict, disability, religion etc. FII also has resources on feminist history, having profiled 300 Indian women in history.
FII’s social media platforms are followed by feminist youth across the country, with its Instagram reach amounting to 168K followers. FII takes care to plan and curate social media content separately. Its YouTube channel, FII Institute, has 15.4K subscribers and publishes many series and podcasts on history and feminist thought leadership.
The organisation has won 8 Laadli Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity (2021), the Manthan Award 2015 by the Digital Empowerment Foundation under the women empowerment category, and the World Summit Young Innovators Award 2018 by WSA amongst others. Today, FII has published 8000+ articles, fostered a community of 1000+ writers, carried out 50+ campaigns on social issues, and amassed a social media reach of over 3 million.