Women Feature Service (WFS)
has been engaged in a variety of areas since 1990, from generating
gender- and development-related media content to hosting seminars
on subjects of contemporary concern as well as workshops
for media personnel. A brief selection of its activities and
involvement's over the years is given below.
In 2014, WFS, through its features, covered several topical themes,
from political inclusion to maternal health
and malnutrition, and also organised media workshops
to sensitise journalists on some
of these critical issues.
- In January, ahead of the 16th Lok Sabha Elections,
WFS brought out a series of eight features, titled ‘Count Me In: Youth On A Changing Curve’
that documented the political advocacy work being steered through
ComMutiny, a youth collective, and 35 NGOs across 15 states.
It captured the trends, the energy and other youth-related subjects
associated with the My Space-My unManifesto movement initiated by
ComMutiny and supported by the UNFPA. The series visibilised the impact of
community mobilisation and political awareness raising among the youth, an
important section of the electorate.
- Another series, brought out with support from the
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) between March and June 2014, viewed
the elections through a gender lens. The sixteen features under the
series titled ‘Gender Footprint On A General Election’ took up the theme
in three phases: Lead up to the polls; electioneering and voting;
government formation and after, with the central thematic question:
will women make a difference this time?
- A series of 24 features that visibilised
‘Fight Hunger First Initiatives’ (FHFI)
in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka
was also brought out last year. This series tracked best practices
and social transformations on the ground and looked at the urgent
need to integrate nutrition in all governance related programmes.
Starting from December 2013, two features a month were released
under this project and each feature was accompanied by good
quality pictures and descriptive captions. A webpage
highlighting the series was created on the WFS website,
which carries excerpts of the articles
- WFS partnered with Action Aid (AA) India for
a six-month project, titled ‘Documenting
and Sharing Change’.Under this, WFS generated
features for the mainstream media on issues of
social concern, including education, health, girl
child, empowerment, food security, inclusion, women and
child rights, and so on. WFS also produced
two ‘Critical Stories of Change’ based AA's
initiatives. The first of these was titled ‘Tomorrow
Will Not Be Like Yesterday: Sahariya Tribals Emerge
From the Shadows’ and captured AA's
work with the Sahariya tribals under its ‘Freedom
From Hunger and Fear Campaign’ in Shivpuri district
in Madhya Pradesh and Baran district in Rajasthan.
The second Critical Story, ‘Transformations In Tuensang: Chang
Nagas And The Cycle Of Learning’, tracked AA's initiative
in the remote Tuengsang region in Nagaland.
- WFS, in partnership with International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC), organised a workshop for
journalists titled ‘Ethics of Reporting in
Situations of Emergencies/Understanding the
Context and the Actors’ at the India Habitat
Centre, New Delhi, on 12 September 2014. Dr Najma
Heptullah, Minister for Minority Affairs, was the
chief guest at the event, which sought to sensitise
journalists on the various aspects of reporting
in situations of violence or emergencies with
a special focus on the challenges involved in such
reporting. The participants representing reputed
media outfits, like DD News, Punjab Kesari, Hindustan,
Thomson Reuters, among others, were also
introduced to the role of the ICRC and other aid
agencies and the International Humanitarian Law. Experts
from the field shared their first-hand experiences in
reporting on such situations.
- In partnership with Oxfam India, WFS generated
16 features highlighting the interventions, best practices
and social transformations on the ground under Oxfam's project
‘Improving Maternal Health in Six States of India’,
which was being implemented in 420 villages across 17
districts in six states of India – Bihar, Jharkhand,
Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. The features
were also translated in Hindi and were disseminated to various
national and regional media outfits.
As part of this project, WFS also organised a
half-day regional media workshop in Bhubaneswar in
December 2014. Several mainstream journalists from
Bhubaneswar as well as other districts from Odisha
participated in the workshop. WFS's writers, who had
travelled to Oxfam's project villages to gather information
and report about the initiative also attended the workshop
and shared their insights with the participants.
This was followed up with a national media consultation
that was organised in New Delhi in February 2015.
The consultation saw the participation of more than
30 journalists and experts, who shared their views,
experiences and insights on the crucial issue of
maternal health in India. They also discussed ways of
scaling up reportage on this issue in the media and
the ways in which social media and mobile technology
could be employed to take the message and information
to the masses.
- WFS, in partnership with the women's resource group,
Jagori, generated four features that aimed to visibilise
the contemporary concerns including the status of domestic
workers and initiatives to fight violence against women
and raising awareness on international campaigns like OBR.
- Towards the latter half of the year, WFS undertook
to generate features on the alarming Child Sex Ratio (CSR) in
India. This complemented UNFPA's call for attention to the serious
repercussions of son preference and skewed CSR by building media
interest based on the reports and studies conducted by the UNFPA.
- Some of the other issues that found visibility in the
mainstream media were: land rights for women with support
from Landesa/Rural Development Institute, India; addressing
micro-nutrient deficiency in MP and Rajasthan through staple
food fortification, in collaboration with the Global Alliance
for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).
- During the year, WFS also took up several assignments
with the UNDP. The first of these was based on UNDP's
partnership with the Election Commission of India to further
South-South cooperation on electoral management. Under this,
delegates from 20 countries visited several states in India
to engage more closely on different aspects of elections in
India. WFS reported on these from Bangalore, Howrah, Shimla
and Agra. In another assignment, WFS edited and prepared
three photo essays on sustainable energy in Powerpoint (.ppt) format for the UNDP.
2013 was a year of learning and variegated experiences for us at WFS.
It was full of travel, documentation and, yes, it saw even a
WOMEN AND EMPLOYMENT: A media partnership with
the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) helped us understand
the different dimensions of women's employment in India
through a special series entitled 'Gender Employment and
Empowerment: Struggle for Rights at Work and After'.
Twelve stories were generated under this series, between
February and June 2013, and they included experiences of
unionization and retirement. The year also saw the
publication of a book, again in partnership with FES,
entitled 'Women's Employment - Work In Progress'.
It comprised the hard work of our writers who could capture
different dimensions of women's employment in India.
WOMEN AND PANCHAYATI RAJ: 2013 marked twenty
years since the 73rd and 74th amendments.
To commemorate and celebrate that historic moment
which ushered in panchayati raj into the country
and which saw 33 per cent reservations for women
become a reality in local bodies, WFS collaborated
with The Hunger Project and brought out a series of
20 features that documented the work that women
sarpanches and panches are doing at the grassroots
level. The fortnightly series kicked off on
International Women's Day in March and went on until
October 2013. They were later collated as an
additional section in the THP publication,
'Thus Spoke The Press'.
- WOMEN IN BUNDELKHAND: In the second year of the
`Parmarth-WFS project, 'Women's First Right To Water Resources',
supported by the European Union, a WFS team travelled to the
project areas to gather information and document the work
being done on the ground. It visited several villages,
and extensively interacted with the residents --
especially women from marginalised communities,
as well as Parmarth's field workers. The team made
detailed notes and took photographs. The information was
later collated and made available to Parmarth and the EU.
Some of these reports were later published in the project
newsletter, 'Water Matters, Water Rights', as well as on the project website, www.bundelkhand-water-right.org.
- MEDIA TRAINING ON WOMEN AND WATER RIGHTS:
As part of the 'Women's First Right To Water Resources'
project, WFS anchored a media training workshop at Hamirpur
on March 28, 2013, which was attended by district-level journalists.
To broaden the media persons' understanding of international
and national laws a summary of existing legal instruments
was presented besides a question-answer session. About 25
persons attended the training with many prominent media
houses, including the Dainik Jagran, Amar Ujala, and the
Hindustan, being represented.
ONE BILLION RISING:
February 14, 2013, saw women and
men all over the country join the rest of the world in
rising against violence of all kinds against women in the
unique One Billion Rising initiative begun by Eve Ensler, with
support from women activists like Kamla Bhasin. WFS was part of
that effort and generated several features based on it.
FIGHTING FOR SAFE SPACES IN OUR CITIES:
A Jagori-WFS media partnership highlighted the core concerns
of the Safe Cities Initiative, supported by UN Women and in
partnership with Jagori and the Delhi Government. Features
were generated between March and September. The message from
the series was clear: women had as much right as men to public
spaces, and governments are bound to safeguard every woman's
right to free movement and bodily integrity.
- CRITICAL STORIES OF CHANGE:
This year saw WFS undertake documentation of Action
Aid India's initiatives of fighting poverty in its
various project areas - whether it was among the fisher
folk of Visakhapatnam or the Musahars of Kushinagar and
East Champaran. It looked at how an intervention to
end sex selective abortions in Moradabad and Dholpur made
a difference and how tribals in Purulia, in West Bengal,
claimed their rights to food and employment. The
documentation entailed data collection, interviews with
local leaders, community interaction and civil society groups.
- WOMEN, LAND, RESOURCES: Land and farming practices
emerged as a major concern in WFS's work in 2013. Not
only did it partner with Landesa to generate four
features on women and land rights from Andhra,
Karnataka and Orissa in the months of March and April,
it entered into a media partnership with Alternative
Futures to generate a series of 12 features under the
theme 'Adapting to Climate Change: Women, Weather,
Well-being'. The series captured the policy-making and
agricultural practices related to climate change adaptation
and covered five states - Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal,
Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.
A partnership with Poorest Area Civil Society (PACS)
focused on interventions to access MGNREGA employment in
Bihar and Jharkhand and aimed to disseminate the
learning and the impact of the campaign to a larger audience.
- From February to May 2012, WFS tied up with
PRADAN/Jagori for a media partnership with on the project,
'Facilitating Women in Four Endemic Poverty States of India
to Access, Actualise and Sustain Provisions on Women Empowerment',
supported by UN Women's Fund for Gender Equality. WFS generated
eight features that captured Pradan/Jagori anchored work on
women's mobilisation in the four project states of
Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Each feature, accompanied by relevant images, highlighted the
process of empowerment that helped ordinary rural women, most of
whom were from tribal backgrounds, come together in large
numbers and exert agency in the public space in terms of
entrepreneurial activity, political mobilisation and social
change. The series captured the actions that marked this
project, including the annual stock taking exercises of large
women's SHG federations known locally as 'mahaadhiveshans', in
remote rural sites like Balaghat, Karanjia, Kesla, Hazaribagh,
Dindori and Purulia.
- WFS collaborated with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)
for a features project entitled 'Gender Employment and Empowerment:
Women On The Move In India'(http://wfsnews.org/fes-gender employment and empowerment-2012.html),
which began in April 2012 and ended in October 8, 2012.
There were 16 features generated under this series. At the
outset, a meeting of academics, who had worked on the issue,
was convened, which included Preet Rustagi, Professor and Joint
Director, Institute for Human Development of the IHD; Shalini
Sinha, senior consultant, and Neeta N. Pillai of the Centre for
Women's Development Studies. They mapped the areas of interest
and concern when dealing with the gender dimensions of migration.
The features in the series examined the phenomenon of urban
to urban migration of categories of workers like nurses, who
often have to leave their families behind. It looked at the
impact of migration on the extremely poor who migrate short
distances for vending. It dealt on the status of women in
domestic work - a major sector for women's employment in India
but one that continues to be unregulated. It also looked at the
personal and psychological problems that migration entails,
including migration to regions like the Gulf.
- WFS's partnership with the Orai-based Parmarth Samaj Sevi
Sansthan (PSSS) entered its second year in 2012. During the year,
WFS staff members toured the project districts of Jalaun,
Hamirpur and Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand region.
They spoke to the villagers, specifically women, and collected
information on their problems related to access to water; they
interacted with the field workers to gather information and
document the initiatives by PSSS under the European
Union-supported project, 'Establishing Women's First Right To
Water Resources'. Several features highlighting the impact of
scarcity of water and PSSS's interventions at the community
level were generated. The project website
(http://www.bundelkhand-water-rights.org) was regularly updated
and project newsletters were edited, designed and published on
a quarterly basis.
- From May to August 2012, WFS's director guest edited 16
features for an issue of Infochange Agenda,
a quarterly journal published by the Centre for Communication
and Development Studies. The theme for the issue was
'The Multi-layered, Multi-Sectoral Bias Against Women in
India: Still There After All These Years'.
- WFS generated a series of 18 features, from June to
August 2012, under the title 'Tracking Lives, Tracking Change'
in partnership with Jagori. These articles tracked and
documented the multiple biases women face in both urban and
rural contexts as well as their attempts to empower themselves.
Some of the themes covered in this series were: Actions on the
ground to change the status of Rajasthan's women and girls;
Reviewing the impact of recent amendments to the laws of
marriage/divorce; Best practices in ending sex selective
abortions in Uttar Pradesh, etc.
- To mark the 15 years of association between the Packard Foundation and Janani, a non-profit organisation that provides family planning services in Bihar, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, WFS editorial team produced a 20-page commemorative brochure - A Printed History of Relationship between Janani and the Packard Foundation. The task entailed interviewing key individuals identified by Janani and the Packard Foundation, conducting desk research using available literature sources, writing and editing and coordinating the design of the publication with the graphic designer, in a one-month period starting September 16, 2012.
- WFS and Women Unlimited-Kali for Women brought out a book entitled 'Across the Crossfire: Women And Conflict In India'. This work, supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), is a compilation of narratives generated by WFS from various zones of conflict in India, written between 2009 and 2011. These features focus on the discrete situations of women caught up in insurgencies, wars, riots, situations of civil disorder and natural calamities.
To mark the release of the book, a roundtable discussion,
'Across the Crossfire: Women In The Conflict Zone', was
organised on 5 December 2012 at the India International Centre,
New Delhi, where the writers of some of these articles spoke on
their experiences of reporting these stories from different
regions of the country. Dr Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning
Commission, was the chief guest at this event. Riveting images
from this compilation were also put up on display at the venue
from December 4 to 10, 2012.
- The Jagori-WFS media partnership on the
theme 'Women, Safety and the City', which began in June 2010,
successfully concluded in May 2011. A total of 12 features that
highlighted Jagori-anchored work on the theme of women's
safety in public spaces were generated under the series.
This issue came into public scrutiny given that there were
several incidents of attacks on women in public places in the
- From May to August 2011, WFS again in partnership with
Jagori, undertook to generate six stories on 'Women's Access
To Water, Sanitation And Essential Services'(http://wfsnews.org/wfs-jagiri-inside-may-2011.html) which focussed specifically on the two resettlement sites in Delhi - Bawana and Bhalswa - and the access that the women residents there had to water, sanitation and essential services. The features, which were a combination of reportage, analyses and interviews with experts, recognised the fact that water, sanitation and essential services are central to women's security, dignity and sense of self-worth and explored the links between water, on the one hand, and a safer environment, on the other. They also traced the impacts that the lack of access to proper sanitation has on the quality of life in general.
- To mark the 100 years of International
Women's Day, WFS in partnership with the
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), focused on the
theme of women's employment under the series
'Employment As Empowerment: Visibilising Women At Work'
Sixteen features were generated on a fortnightly basis under the
series between February and October 2011. According to experts,
when it comes to work, women continue to suffer from the
"twin deficits of capabilities and opportunities".
Through these features, WFS inquired into
issues such as: How are women from all sections of
Indian society coping with these deficits?
How has the current recession affected their chances of
earning a livelihood? What are the factors that encourage
women's employment? How secure are their working conditions?
- From February to November 15, 2011, WFS, in partnership
with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC),
generated a flagship series of 20 articles on the theme
'Lifelines, Life Chances: Health Care In Areas Affected
By Violence' (http://wfsnews.org/icrcwfsinside2011.html),
which focussed on initiatives to deliver health treatment
and life chances to people engaged in or affected by conflict.
Violence in all forms affects people in diverse and
dehumanising ways. It uproots individuals, tears apart
families and communities, robs people of their sources
of livelihood, and makes the lives of women and children
extremely insecure. International and national laws underline
the principle that the human dignity of all individuals must be
respected at all times in situations of conflict. The series
that marked the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day,
focused on people caught up or engaged in situations of conflict
and on initiatives to deliver health treatment and life chances
- In December 2011, WFS put out a prestigious series,
'Food, Nutrition and Well-being' comprising 40
features supported by UN agencies like UNDP, UNICEF,
the World Food Programme and FAO. Between December
2011 and March 2012, these features were put out in
the media, including regional media like the mass
circulating Odisha newspaper, 'Sambad'. The series
came out at a time when the debates on food security
were taking place in Parliament in the wake of the
Food Security Bill. The fact that India has the
highest numbers of malnourished children in the
world lent immediacy to the series and it was around
this time that the HungaMa Report, released by the
Prime Minister, highlighted nutrition realities in
rural India. The series scoped the issues if hunger,
nutrition and productive lives with specific focus on
the states of Rajasthan and Orissa. Through these
features WFS provided an aggregated and comprehensive
picture of the situation on the ground and highlighted
interventions that address the concern which have been
undertaken by the Government of India, UN Organisations,
as well as civil society groups.
- In April 2011, WFS entered into a partnership
with the Orai-based Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan on
the European Union-supported project,
'Establishing Women's First Right To Water Resources'.
WFS staff members toured extensively to the remote parts
of the districts of Jalaun, Hamirpur and Lalitpur in
Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand region under this project.
They spoke to and interviewed several villagers, specifically
women, to get a feel of the problems on the ground. Based on
their observations and interviews, they generated several
features highlighting the impact of water scarcity on the
women in this region with special focus on Dalit and tribal
households. A project-specific website (http://www.bundelkhand-water-rights.org) was also made functional and newsletters under the project were designed. A document on the study on woman and water has also been put together.
- On August 27, 2011, WFS in partnership with the
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) and the Asian College of
Journalism (ACJ), conducted a day-long workshop for the
students of ACJ on the theme of
'Women In The Political Space: Reading The Assembly Elections of
May 2011.' Over a hundred and fifty students participated in the
event conducted at the ACJ campus in Chennai.
The workshop explored women's participation in politics,
against the backdrop of the May assembly elections that
had taken place in the five states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu,
Assam, Kerala and Pondicherry. Experts from these states were
invited to speak at this workshop.
- A one-day media workshop hosted by the International
Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the WFS and Bhopal-based
media network, Vikas Samvad, on the theme, 'Media and Conflict:
The Untold Stories - Health Care, Well-being and International
Humanitarian Law', was held at Hotel Surendra Vilas, Bhopal,
on November 29, 2011. Participants included journalists working
in conflict affected parts of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- One of the special moments of 2010 was the top award that
went to WFS, given by the United Nations Correspondents Association,
for its series, 'Towards Millennium Development Goals, 2015:
Gains and Gaps'. At a glittering awards ceremony held on
December 15, presided over by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and
attended by the Indian ambassador and other important dignitaries,
WFS won the United Nations Foundation Prize for entries in any
medium that best covers the humanitarian and development aspects of
the UN and its agencies. The Silver in this category was won by the
Associated Press Team and the Bronze went to James Reinl of
The National. Other awards were also distributed on the occasion
An eminent panel comprised the jury for these awards.
They were: Ian Williams, Awards Selection Chairman;
David Andelman, World Policy Journal; Antonio
Carlucci, L'espresso; Barbara Crossette; Georges Leclere,
LGMA; Isabelle Peters, Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation;
and Robert Skinner, UN Foundation.
In the series on the MDGs, WFS reported from little known corners
of India on effective and innovative social interventions.
These initiatives were changing lives whether it was in Orai, the
nondescript headquarters of Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh,
where attempts to see that Dalit children did not drop out of
school were making an impact, or in a slum in Indore,
Madhya Pradesh, where local women learnt how to deliver on
- The WFS-UNDP series entitled, 'Climate Change, Gender
and MDGs in India' continued in 2010. Under the project, WFS put
out on a fortnightly basis, over a 13-month span, stories on
themes of environmental stress, climate change and the gender
dimension. The features generated under this project fell into
two broad categories: 'Being the Change In Times of Climate Change'
and 'Mapping Vulnerabilities Caused By Climate Change'. The project
commenced on July 6, 2009 and ended on July 26, 2010.
- WFS and UNIFEM entered into a 12-month media partnership to
generate features on a fortnightly basis, in October 2009. The
project ended in September 2010. At the end of the year, WFS was
able to make available 39 stories in this series to UNIFEM, along
with relevant visuals, capturing gender specific developments during
those 12 months - including the South Asian and Indian mobilization
for the Beijing Plus 15 process, the PWDVA review, the Safe Cities
Campaign, the first anniversary of UPA -II, and the food security
- The FES-WFS project, entitled, 'Gender Graph: Women and
Political Power/Women and Economic Power', began in March 2010, as
an initiative to mark the Beijing Plus 15 process. The Beijing
Platform For Action had strongly underlined the need to increase
women's presence in both politics and employment. It was also
anticipated that the historic Women's Reservation Bill would be
placed before Parliament during the course of the year. Taking all
these developments into consideration, it was decided that a series
of features would be generated on the two themes of women and
work/women and political empowerment. Over a period of eight
months, 16 features along with relevant images were generated.
In terms of women's participation in politics,
the series captured the mobilization over the women's bill at
a national level, from different locations and vantage points.
There were also a couple of features focusing on Panchayati Raj
In terms of employment, a broad category of the work that
women do - ranging from home-care nursing to discharging executive
functions in multinationals - was covered. There were features
on the women garment workers of Karnataka, the women construction
workers at the Commonwealth Games sites in Delhi, and women factory
workers employed in small units on the outskirts of Mumbai.
There were also features on initiatives to promote employable skills
in women so that they could access the job market more easily.
At the end of the series, WFS and FES also jointly organised a
one-day seminar, 'Women In The Public Sphere: Women In Politics
And Women At Work'. It was held at the India International Centre
in New Delhi on September 23, 2010. Simultaneously, a 10-day
public exhibition of images and text from the FES-WFS series,
'Gender Graph: Women and Political Power / Women and Economic
Power', was also organised at IIC's quadrangle garden. Speakers at
the seminar included Dr Bina Agarwal, director and professor of
economics, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Reiko Tsushima,
a Senior Specialist on Gender Equality and Women Workers' Rights
with the International Labour Organisation, Sub-regional Office for
South Asia in New Delhi, Shalini Sinha, a Development Professional,
Suneeta Dhar, director of Jagori, Dr Zoya Hasan, Professor of
Political Science, Centre for Political Studies, School of
Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and Shubashini
Ali, former MP and president, AIDWA, among others. Five WFS writers
also spoke on the articles they wrote and the insights they had
- An ongoing partnership with Jagori that began in June 2010
saw the generation of stories on the theme of 'Women, Safety and
Cities'. It focused on the central question: How can Indian cities
be made more secure for women to protect their right to freedom of
movement and safety? The features looked at violence in the public
domain and reported on responses, strategies and campaigns to resist
such violence and make urban spaces safer for women at all times of
the day or night. As part of this series, WFS also reported
extensively on the Third International Conference On Safe Cities For
Women And Girls that took place in New Delhi in November, during
which more than 270 participants from 41 countries participated.
The Conference adopted a declaration that asserted the right of
all women to live free from violence and fear, in more equitable,
democratic and inclusive cities. This series is being supported by
- On March 8, WFS, in partnership with ICRC, commemorated
International Women's Day 2010 by staging a half-day seminar
on the theme, 'Voiceless and Faceless In The Conflict Zone',
at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi. The seminar
focused on the experiences of women who, despite being the worst
affected in situations of conflict, have little or no power to
change their circumstances. It recognized the central role of women
in preventing conflict, working for the cessation of hostilities,
negotiating for peace, and rebuilding lives disrupted by displacement and uncertainty. It also paid tribute to the remarkable courage and resilience of many women caught in grim scenarios of violence. Among the speakers were Ravi Hemadri, Executive Director, The Other Media; Lansinglu Rongmei, advocacy lawyer and founder member of the Northeast Support Centre & Helpline; Shoma Chaudhury, Executive Editor, Tehelka and Ritu Menon, founder of feminist publishing house, Women Unlimited/Kali for Women. Francois Stamm, Head of Delegation, ICRC, Sophie Barbey, Protection Coordinator, ICRC, and Christopher Harland, Legal Expert, ICRC, also spoke.
- Women's Feature Service and the International
Committee of the Red Cross came together for a project that
generated features on the theme of 'Women and Conflict'.
first story in this series was launched on March 2, 2009 to
mark International Women's Day and the 60th anniversary of
the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Over the next few months, 25
reports and related images of women in conflict situations -
including current developments like Lalgarh, Nandigram and
the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks, were generated under this
Based on this series a seminar entitled, 'Women in Conflict
Zones: Survivors and Peacemakers', was held at India
International Centre, New Delhi, on September 22 and 23, 2009. A public exhibition of the images from this series was also staged in the week the seminar took place.
- WFS, in association with ICRC and with assistance from Prabhat Khabar, organised a workshop on media reporting conflict, in Ranchi, on November 20. Around 30 reporters from various corners of the state participated despite the incidences of violence, and the fact that elections in the state were just round the corner.
- In April-May 2009 - during the General Election to the 15th Lok Sabha - WFS along with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) did a series of 10 stories on the major campaigns conducted by women politicians in the country.
- Continuing on the theme of women in politics, WFS and FES, with Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC), conducted a half-day seminar on the Women's Reservation Bill at the IWPC premises in Delhi on August 29, 2009. A number of Members of Parliament (MPs) from both the Treasury Benches and Opposition participated in the discussions.
- WFS is currently running a features series entitled, 'Climate Change, Gender and MDGs in India'.
- WFS covered a national series of public hearings on climate change spearheaded by Oxfam India in association with various NGO partners. The 7-part weekly series began in October and culminated on November 30.
- WFS, in partnership with Unnati Features, organised a contest for Indian youth. Titled, 'Mera India, Bridge The Gap', the contest invited participants to suggest ways in which India can help meet its commitments on MDGs and to do this through the medium of an essay, pictorial strip or film. Some 500 young people signed up. About 100 sent in entries and 15 were awarded handsome prizes at a special awards ceremony at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi on November 10, 2009.
In 2008, apart from producing around 350 national and international features, Women's Feature Service also undertook a wide range of activities which focused on two broad objectives: raising the visibility of gender issues within civil society and informing and educating media professionals on the big social themes of the day.
- The features generated by WFS in 2008 covered a wide range of subjects. We had inspiring stories of women changing their lives and their communities against great odds. Women like Koma Mohanty, an illiterate woman living with HIV/AIDS in an Orissa village, who is fighting ignorance and social prejudice against people like her. WFS also carried an exclusive first-person account by Planning Commission Member, Syeda Hameed, on why she agreed to become the first woman in India to conduct a nikkah. WFS highlighted how village ten-year-olds dream of becoming national swimming champs in Bihar's backwaters and how young women find self affirmation in the wrestling rings of Delhi. WFS also covered every major development that had a gender dimension in 2008, from the plea of a Mumbai couple to abort their 25-week-old foetus to the Hillary Clinton phenomenon; from the passing of the Women's Reservation Bill in India's Upper House, to understanding why the Beijing Olympics was important for Chinese women. There were serious critiques of the new draft Indian law on surrogacy, the legal provisions meant to address sexual harassment in the workplace and the handling of the Scarlet Keeling and Arushi Talwar murder cases. WFS stayed abreast of events during a tumultuous year that saw world markets collapse, terrorists strike in Mumbai, the River Kosi change course and flood large stretches of Bihar, riots in Orissa and which witnessed the overthrowing of the monarchy in Nepal.
- Fellowship Project CARE India and Women's Features Service came together for the CARE-Women's Feature Service Media Fellowships 2008. Fifteen fellowships were made available to journalists and writers chosen from WFS's network of correspondents from across the country. Each fellow had to submit three features on the theme of women as agents of change. These features, which highlighted the inspiring work done by thousands of unknown women all over India, were then published in various national, regional and international publications, as well as on several websites.
- Photo Exhibitions WFS-CARE India fellowship process were showcased as an attractive photo exhibition that was staged in two venues at the heart of New Delhi. Entitled ‘Engendering the New- Women as Agents of Change’', the exhibition (held at the India Habitat Centre from September 24 to 27 and at India International Centre from Sept 30 to Oct. 3, 2008). The exhibition highlighted the role of women in innumerable social interventions on the ground, ranging from livelihood generation and healthcare to agricultural innovation and personal empowerment.
December: As a lead up to Human Rights Day WFS photographs of women transforming their personal space by working for better sanitation and potable water, were exhibited on the lawns of the United Nations in Delhi.
- Workshops In the shadow of the elections to the Delhi assembly, Women's Feature Service (WFS) in association with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), conducted a very relevant and topical workshop on the theme, 'Translating Politics Into Participatory Governance' at the India International Centre. Over 25 journalists and students of political science participated in the day-long workshop. The objective of the workshop was to raise awareness among journalists on crucial human development issues that emerged in the run-up to the Delhi elections.The Chief Minister of Delhi, Ms Sheila Dikshit, delivered the inaugural address in which she presented her vision for Delhi.
Recognising that one of the hurdles in the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in India is the asymmetry of information flows, Women's Feature Service in association with UN agencies (UNRCO/UNDP/UNICEF/UNFPA), and the Indian Media Center For Journalists (IMCFJ), organised a one-and-a-half day media workshop on the theme, 'From Goals to Media Stories/ From Media Stories to Goals', in Lucknow. Twenty-eight journalists from Uttar Pradesh (UP), Bihar and Jharkhand, some of them located in small towns, and writing for small and medium size newspapers, attended this workshop that was conducted entirely in Hindi.
- A brainstorming meeting of senior editors of South Asian newspapers (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal), political leaders' consortium on population & development (AFPPD and IAPPD), activists, CSOs/INGOs, and the UN Millennium Campaign team was organised in Delhi. The focus of the discussions was maternal health (MDG 5). (In collaboration with United Nations Population Fund, Country Technical Support Team, South & West Asia).
- A media advocacy and training initiative was undertaken that focussed on the UN's MDG 5 (Maternal Health). Six journalists (from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan) traveled to a South Asian country other than their own and undertook a short field trip. WFS organised their travel, meetings with NGOs, maternal health experts, field visits, etc. Based on their field trips, the journalists filed articles that were published in their respective newspapers. The same articles have also been put up on the websites of Women's Feature Service and UNFPA. (In collaboration with United Nations Millennium Campaign and United Nations Population Fund, Country Technical Support Team, South & West Asia)
- South Asian Capacity Building Workshop, held in Delhi (India), to discuss issues related to Reproductive Health and HIV &Youth. Print journalists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives participated in this seminar. (In collaboration with Population Reference Bureau, USA and with technical support from United Nations Population Fund, Country Technical Support Team, South & West Asia)
- Media Training Workshop to sensitise and train Hindi and English journalists (print and television) from Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal on reporting on the UN's Millennium Development Goals. (In collaboration with UNDP and DFID, India)
- Media Training Workshop to sensitise and train Hindi and English journalists (print and television) from Bihar, Orissa and Jharkhand on reporting on the UN's Millennium Development Goals. (In collaboration with UNDP and DFID, India)
- South Asia Editors' Roundtable, held in Delhi, to discuss how coverage of development issues can be improved. The consultation was attended by editors/ media owners from Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. (In collaboration with UNFPA-CST, South and West Asia)
- Media training workshop to sensitise journalists (print and TV) to issues related to sex determination and unequal sex ratio. The workshop was conducted in Hindi and was attended by journalists from Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. (In collaboration with UNFPA, India)
- Media training workshop to sensitise and train journalists from Madhya Pradesh and Delhi on reporting on the UN's Millennium Development Goals. (In collaboration with UNDP and DFID, India)
- Media sensitisation workshop for radio professionals on issues related to sex determination and unequal sex ratio. (In collaboration with UNFPA, India)
- Media training workshop to sensitise and train journalists from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on reporting on the UN's Millennium Development Goals. (In collaboration with UNDP, India, IIM-Bangalore, and Dept of Personnel and Training)
- Talks to students of communication in five Delhi colleges on issues related to HIV and Gender. (In collaboration with UNIFEM, SARO)
- Editing of profiles and preparation of press releases for screening of short documentaries on HIV by young filmmakers from Asia. (In collaboration with UNESCO, Asia)
- Editing of profiles of 160 'peacewomen' from South Asia who were nominated for the 1000 Women for the Nobel Prize 2005. (In collaboration with Sangat, India and Association for 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005, Switzerland)
- TV monitoring project of selected TV channels in India that broadcast news or current affairs programmes, and researching and writing an overview of television journalism in India. This project was a part of a TV monitoring project that compared the 'communicative architecture' and production practices of television journalism in Australia, USA, UK, India, Singapore and South Africa. (In collaboration with University of Melbourne, Australia)
- Media training workshop on the UN's Millennium Development Goals, attended by civil servants and journalists (print and TV) from Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana , Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. (In collaboration with UNDP, Dept for Personnel and Training and Indian Institute of Public Administration)
- Workshop on community radio, attended by stakeholders and those interested in community radio policy. (In collaboration with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, UNDP and UNESCO)
- Media monitoring project to analyse newspapers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India for reportage on peace and conflict. Angana Parekh presented a paper based on the findings at a conference in Sri Lanka on 'Peace, Conflict Transformation, Development and Gender' and Tripta Batra conducted a working group session to build the capacity of NGOs to analyse print media and establish working relationships with mediapersons. (Supported by EED)
- A paper on the outcome of the above workshops was presented by Angana Parekh at a conference on 'Access to Information, ICTs and Cross Media Partnerships - The Empowerment Agenda' organised by UNDP in Goa, India. (Sponsored by UNDP)
- Two workshops on 'Development Reporting' designed for Hindi language newspaper and TV journalists from seven Hindi-speaking states of India. A total of 49 mediapersons were trained and sensitised on issues like local self-governance, HIV and gender, ICTs for development, Tools for development reporting and Right to Information laws. (In collaboration with UNDP.)
- A series of 10 articles and one half-hour radio programme on adolescent sexual and reproductive health. The target readers and listeners were teenagers so several features were placed in the city supplement of a leading national daily that is widely read by young people. (Supported by Population Council)
- Produced 10 articles on the post-earthquake rehabilitation and reconstruction work of NGOs in Kutch, Gujarat. (Sponsored by the America India Foundation)
- In collaboration with Centre for Women's Development Studies (CWDS), WFS organised a training workshop for women's NGOs on 'Internet and its Applications' in Delhi (India). (Supported by SID)
- Organised two training and sensitisation workshops in Bhopal (India) and Lucknow (India) for Hindi language journalists on reporting on HIV and gender issues. (Supported by UNIFEM)
- A series of articles and news briefs on informed and
expanded contraceptive choice; for publication in mainstream
media, and two 30-minute radio programmes broadcast on FM and AIR.
(Supported by Population Council)
- UNESCO workshop on 'News Agencies and the Internet' in
Amman (Jordan): Angana Parekh presented a paper on 'Key
Challenges and Strategies in the Electronic Age'.
- A series of articles on women, religion and the media;
for publication in mainstream media, and a 30-minute radio
programme broadcast on AIR Vividh Bharati.
(Supported by Ford Foundation)
- Organised a workshop in Bhopal (India) to train Hindi
language journalists on reporting on gender and development
issues. (Supported by FES)
- A series of articles on urbanisation; for publication in
mainstream media and also put up on a specially-created
'Citylife' section on the WFS website. Also created links
with associated websites. (In collaboration with TVE)
- Asia-Pacific Conference on Media and Transformative
Leadership in Manila (Philippines): Angana Parekh presented
a paper on 'Partnership with Media for Transformative
- A series of articles from India, Nepal, Bangladesh,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka on the situation vis-à-vis rape and
dowry; for publication in mainstream media.
(Supported by Oxfam)
an electronic discussion on 'Women, Religion and the Media:
Searching for New Interpretations'
on a workshop (organised by the Department of Women &
Child, Ministry of Human Resource Development,
Government of India) 'Best Practices in Group dynamics in
WFS took a team of journalists from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India to cover the meeting of the SAARC People's Forum in Kathmandu (Nepal). (Supported by UNIFEM)