How does it feel to be perennially trolled for having an ideology, belonging to a religious group or just being bold? The women we talk about here are the ones who have pushed the boundaries not just for themselves but also the coming generations. Political journalist Sagarika Ghose, entrepreneur Nazia Erum and activist Gurmehar Kaur are a few such women.

At the Iinspire Inclusion Leadership Awards, organised by BD Foundation, Ghose talked about her initial days in journalism when she had just joined Time of India after returning from Oxford. She said that along with her, one more male journalist had joined and he too was from Oxford University. On their first day at work, the editor sent her male colleague to cover a protest while she was made to relax in office because it was hot outside. He also told her that she might not be able to be heard in the crowd “because she had a soft voice”.

She also revealed that when she joined, the TOI office did not have a women’s toilet. “But I am happy to say that women have made leaps and bounds in journalism,” said Ghose.

When asked about why women politicians have failed us in standing up against rape, she said, “I think it is because of the continuing patriarchy of the political system that no woman politician has ever stood up for women. In fact they have gone the other side and victim-shamed women. Women politicians have been afraid to take up gender justice and crimes against women because women politicians remain confined to the ladies compartment.”

Writer of a book on Indira Gandhi, ‘Indira’, Ghose quoted US Supreme Court judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg when she told the audience to “be a little bit mad”. “You see in the kind of violent, prejudiced male-dominated atmosphere in which journalists and politicians work, if you are a nice person, then you are dead. So if there is a choice between being a nice person and a mad person, I will say be a mad person.”

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Gurmehar Kaur spoke about the aftermath of the ruthless trolling attack she faced a year ago. “I feel like I am juggling two lives all at once. I am writing another book, columns, speak at different panels and also I am attending college every day.  It is very mentally exhausting but more than anything, it is empowering.”

“It just makes you feel happy and empowered to know that you could be somebody as young as I am and still have a voice. So being Gurmehar Kaur is very hectic, but the fact that I am able to say what I say, it gives me a little glimmer of hope.”

Kaur also talked about the struggles she had while growing up as her father passed away when she was very young. Since her mother was a working woman, Kaur had to stay at school late so her mother could come to pick her up. And all the little hurdles that she went through in her growing up years made her the strong woman she is today. The three days of trolling were only a display of her strong personality.

“Because of the continuing patriarchy of the political system that no woman politician has ever stood up for women. In fact they have gone the other side and victim-shamed women,” – Sagarika Ghosh

The fact that people spread hate against one particular religion and normalize it is one of the worst case scenarios that we are witnessing currently. And the most badly hit by this phenomenon are children. Nazia Erum wrote a book called ‘Mothering a Muslim’ and she took the religion aspect from a mother’s point of view to understand how children are bullied because of their religion. “As a mother, you want to protect your child on every step of the way, so I wanted to talk to other mothers and know how is Muslim motherhood different than any other and the answer is it is not.”

She added, “I wanted it to be a positive book but the answers that came were shocking and sorrowful. I have cried while listening to the mothers, I have cried while hearing the translations and I cried while writing the book.”

These women have set the standards high and they are not afraid to speak their minds. They define fearless — both on the online and the real world. The one thing they have in common — they have all pushed the envelope with the books they have written.

SheThePeople was a part to I-Inspire 2018 an effort of BD Foundation.

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