These Women Are Making the Best of Journalism for Women's Empowerment in India

Staying away from noisy television debates and politically-biased editorials, a few women journalists have even managed to bring the cause of women’s rights to the forefront through their work.

In India, journalism is not a favoured career choice for women as it involves numerous risks on a daily basis. Those women who have still dared to venture into journalism often have to endure mind numbing prejudice in mostly male-dominated newsrooms too. Yet, over the last 25 years, women have made significant progress, braving hostility at every corner.  

Following in the footsteps of Barkha Dutt, Sagarika Ghose, Arfa Khanum, Shereen Bhan, and Faye D’souza, a bunch of youngsters have brought a new face to journalism in India. Staying away from noisy television debates and politically-biased editorials, a few of these journalists have managed to bring the cause of women’s rights to the forefront through their work. Find out more:

Shaili Chopra

Until a decade ago, the idea of a media platform dedicated to stories of real women would have seemed laughable. And that’s why award-winning journalist Shaili Chopra ushered in a much-needed change by starting SheThePeople – India’s first online media platform that has carved a niche by sharing stories of women from all walks of life. The channel claims to have a reach of 85 million women at present.

Shaili’s portfolio boasts of interviews with billionaire investor Warren Buffett, French politician Christine Lagarde, billionaire-philanthropist George Soros, Indian business tycoons Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani, anchoring shows on ET Now and NDTV, covering the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, and establishing – a one stop destination for the latest development in the world of golf.

Shaili, 38, is the recipient of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Award for Excellence in Journalism (2012). She is the co-author of Feminist Rani, a collection of interviews with women whose works have been celebrated in different spheres, as well as When I was 25 and The Big Connect.

Japleen Pasricha

Japleen Pasricha’s brainchild - Feminism in India, founded in 2014 - has played a pivotal role in furthering the dialogue on feminism and gender politics in India. The director and editor-in-chief of the feminist digital community platform is currently a fellow at The Swedish Institute in Sweden, which picks 60 individuals from across the globe who advocate for gender equality. This 30-year-old from New Delhi also holds MA and M.Phil in German Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

In the era of #MeToo, Feminism In India helped shift the discourse on sexual harassment and gender-based violence, by supporting women who named their harassers. The platform has also released a media toolkit which contains a set of guidelines for media personnel on sensitive coverage of sexual assault on women.

Listen to Japleen Pasricha as she speak at MAKERS India annual conference in Bengaluru on March 13-14!

Neha Dixit

If one were to motivate young women to consider journalism as a career, a narration of Neha Dixit’s achievements should do the trick. Neha, who is now in her 30s, has been widely accredited for her reportage on politics, gender, and social justice in South Asia.

In 2019, she won the revered International Press Freedom Awards (IPFA) from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Other accolades in her kitty include 2016 Chameli Devi Jain award for Outstanding Woman Media Person in India, the 2014 Kurt Schork Award in International Journalism, and the 2011 Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism from the European Commission.

An alumnus of Miranda House (Delhi University) and Jamia Milia Islamia, her work has been published in The New York Times, Al-Jazeera, Caravan, Smithsonian, Outlook and The Wire.

Sai Seshadri

Sai Sailaja Seshadri is the poster girl for women who are striving to bring discourses on feminism and women’s issues into the mainstream media. A political science graduate from Arizona State University, US, Sai is the founder and editor-in-chief of Women’s Republic, a digital platform which highlights issues pertaining to women’s rights and gender equality.

The website came into existence when Sai was still in college and has contributions from women from across the globe. The objective of the website is to lend voice to under-privileged women who do not otherwise have a platform to share their opinions and experiences. Sai believes that writing is a powerful tool to educate people and spread awareness about.

Supriya Sharma's executive editor Supriya Sharma has won the esteemed Ramnath Goenka award twice in her illustrious career. She won the first Ramnath Goenka award in 2013, in the ‘Uncovering India Invisible’ category, for her reports from Chhattisgarh on topics including droughts, farmer debt crisis, and child deaths due to hunger.

Supriya Sharma (Image from Twitter)

She bagged the prize for the second time in the Reporting on Politics and Government category for her "Window Seat" series in 2014. The series was an unconventional attempt to gauge the political climate of the country prior to the elections. She penned the stories in a span of six weeks during the course of a 2500-km long train journey from Guwahati to Jammu before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. She also received the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist in the same year.

The New Delhi-based journalist has earlier worked with NDTV and The Times of India, and has been published in Al Jazeera and The Caravan magazine as well.

(Edited by Athira Nair)