Jane Austen, one of the most celebrated women authors of the early 19th century, who gave us classics like Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma, had to publish her works anonymously because it was quite a common practice at that time, especially for women writers, as it was not deemed ‘ladylike’ to pursue a career in writing or publishing for profit.
The world has moved on, and, thankfully, women writers don’t have to hide behind pseudonyms anymore as prolific writers like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, JK Rowling, Arundhati Roy, Agatha Christie, and Jhumpa Lahiri, to name a few, enriched global literature with their unique stories and experiences, which have captivated and influenced readership cutting across geographies, ideologies, religions, and socio-cultural backgrounds.
Diane von Fürstenberg, the septuagenarian Belgian fashion designer, entrepreneur and social activist, famously said: “I wanted to be an empowered woman, and I became an empowered woman. Now, I want to empower every woman. And, I do it through my clothes, I do it through my words, I do it through my money, I do it through everything.”
The same spirit is seen in the hearts of a group of very determined women of Indian origin spread all over the world who are on a mission to tell their stories, using their own resources, creativity, and experiences. They call themselves the SHE team and have already published three books, launched every year on International Women’s Day. Now, the SHE team has over 30 authors in nine countries (India, Switzerland, Netherlands, UK, US, Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, and Philippines). Led by Brindarica Bose who is based in Switzerland, SHE was an idea to reach out to women worldwide, who have a story to tell, coming from diverse backgrounds for an anthology. The idea was to provide a platform to the female voice, often unheard, as they are not professional writers, and, yet, have poignant stories to tell. They had to be women of Indian origin. The aim was to support women’s creativity. Already, SHE has seen three successful publications where the authors do not just aim to get published, but they joined hands and raised issues that are important for women globally.
I have observed the enthusiasm and commitment of the SHE team from close quarters because my better half, Karabi, has been actively associated with it as a writer. The enthusiasm and commitment of the SHE team is inspiring as it takes a lot of meticulous planning for all these women located in various parts of the globe to plan and execute the creative work. The way they co-ordinate across the globe, pandemic or otherwise, with deadlines for each story, is a fascinating process. And, what makes SHE even more special is that the entire sale proceeds from the books are ploughed back to charitable causes like helping the girl child in distress.
The mantra for three years of success of the SHE team is collaboration, commitment, and creativity over chaos. The focus is on the changing role of women/millennials at the workplace/writing/entrepreneurship. They designate duties to teams of editors, collaborators, proof-readers, marketers, etc. One has to volunteer and take up responsibilities.
If someone is curious as to why people should read SHE Speaks, SHE Reflects, and SHE Celebrates, or even join the SHE movement, the answer possibly is because they most certainly will relate to the issues and stories presented in the books. For example, the stories in SHE Celebrates, the latest publication, are also about 21 Indian festivals and include a recipe as an add-on to the stories.
The efforts of the SHE team deserve much adulation for giving wings to latent creativity with a much bigger goal in mind, promoting the culture and concerns of one’s motherland through wonderfully presented women protagonists whose unique stories inspire both women and men alike to challenge their own convictions and overcome their prejudices, if any. If anyone is interested to know more about the world of SHE, one can contact: [email protected]