Women will be a powerful voice at the sixth annual DSC Jaipur Literature Festival (Jan 24-28) with iconic writers like Diana Eck, leading Arab novelist Ahdaf Soueif, Aminatta Forna, Lakshmi Holmstrom, Nasreen Munni Kabir and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak addressing issues related to women in literature and the intellectual space.
At least 40 leading women writers will exchange ideas and look for ways to carry the idea of feminism forward at the festival.
In a communique Wednesday, the organiser said the women's panorama at the festival will host poetry, stories, readings and panels discussion on the multifaceted experience of being a woman, and the search for gender equity and justice".
The keynote address "O to live again!" will be delivered by Mahasweta Devi, setting the tone for various sessions where women and men will probe gender issues in languages including English, Hindi, Rajasthani, Tamil and Malayalam.
"India is a nation of strong women who are socially vulnerable. This years' programme at Jaipur addresses a range of women's issues and literary voices from across the world. I am looking forward to 'Imagine', a session invoking human strength and solidarity across boundaries," festival co-director Namita Gokhale said.
Stimulating topics like sex, sensibility, women's cults and religion will be open for discussion. Celebrated Tamil feminist writer Ambai will speak about her writing and of SPARROW - Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women - a trust set up in 1988 in Mumbai to build a national archive for women with print, oral history and pictorial material.
In "The Yogini" session, David White will discuss the cult of the "yogini" with Diana Eck, among others, and Shabana Azmi will take a look at "Sex and Sensibilities" with Prasoon Joshi at the representations of women in Bollywood.
K.R. Indira will address women's Kamasutra and the feminine right "to appreciate their own sensuality without intimidation".
Festival advisor Urvashi Butalia said its attention to women's voices was an important gesture of solidarity with Indians fighting for a fairer and inclusive India.
Several books on women will be in the spotlight, together with the discussion panels. One of the highlights in the books section - "A Life Apart", the English translation of Prabha Khaitan's autobiography, "Anya se Ananya" - will look at the interior lives of women and the power of testimonial literature to break new ground in women's
Panels like "Women in the Path" will look at the mismatch between the essence and the theological theory of Buddhist philosophy on the issue of women and ultimate liberation while "Adhura Aadmi, Adhuna Naari" will study the link between sexes in the articulation of a human voice.
"Stree Hokar Sawaal Karti Ho?" examines the increasingly vocal questions that women ask and the silences they receive in reply.