It’s not just the beautiful spring season we’re celebrating in March—the 8th of the month marks International Women’s Day. A few days before International Women’s Day, on March 1st and 2nd, Travelista with its first-ever Women Festival ‘SHE’, joined hundreds of women, men, and organisations at Delhi Haat, the cultural hub in the Capital to celebrate women’s achievements, knowledge, and agency. At a moment when women’s empowerment and gender equality are gaining momentum worldwide, there is great hope and potential for gender-positive change for future generations in our country.
The two-day festival highlighted the cause of girl child education, welfare, women safety, and various other causes by organising entertaining but thoughtful activities. Prominent women personalities of the country like Dr Kiran Bedi and Ms. Jwala Gutta also extended their support to the initiative. “Women safety secures the nation as a whole,” said Dr Bedi.
To cater for women’s love for shopping, the festival hosted over 70 women entrepreneurs and designers who showcased a unique and affordable collection of apparel, jewellery, accessories, handicrafts, vintage and kitsch products, décor etc. Other major attractions were the interesting eclectic art and poetry installations by the very reputed, Anjali Thapa; a special ‘SHE Says’ corner for women to voice their opinions and aspirations to make a difference in the lives of other women; a funky photo booth with placards and props; and ‘Who is She?’, a trivia quiz on great women of India.
When asked what is so unique about the SHE festival, Akshuna Bakshi, the founder of Travelista, and the woman behind the SHE festival, said, “We have adopted creative ways to attract public attention to the cause of girl child and status of women as we feel that the conventional and plain methods of lectures and speeches are unable to strike a chord with the audience. Apart from promoting women entrepreneurs and women designers, we also aimed to encourage women to express their concerns and raise their voice on women issues close to their heart in an interactive and engaging way”.
Travelista, through this festival supported and displayed the works of Shiksha Bharati, one of India’s leading NGO which has been working tirelessly for the past 25 years to provide a better future and education to thousands of underprivileged young girls especially from India’s remote areas. Girls from the NGO performed martial arts, creative yoga, and colourful folk dances from Assam, Nagaland and Rajasthan, during the fest.
The ‘Travelista She Says’ corner was a big hit with the women audiences. They were seen actively participating, taking the centre stage in the public discourse, sharing their thoughts on dignity, security and the freedom to live the way they want. The corner showcased a special wall dedicated to the legendary, brave women who fought for various women causes in the history and mythology of India and the world. People, both men and women did not mind dressing up in colourful wigs, funny props and getting clicked. A number of little girls also dressed up as fairies and angels with beautiful wings, magical wands and tiaras.
Sadly, some women were initially shy to hold a placard voicing an important woman issue and getting associated with an important cause like rape, molestation, female foeticide etc. “This passive public behaviour and the tendency to not stand up for issues which actually matter is one of the most important things which we wanted to mirror through the festival”, said Akshuna.
To conclude, both the days were entertaining and informative, and had seen a commendable number of women participants. Akshuna disclosed that witnessing the roaring success of the first SHE festival, Travelista plans to come up with many more similar events in the future and encourage more women to stand up for their rights and feel brave.
Photo Credit: Rishab Malhotra
Note: The article first appeared on What’s Hot/TimesCity