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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Women Of The Wild – India: A Chronicle Of The Achievements Of Indian Women And A Place To Share

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Akanksha Sing has always been at the forefront of natural history filmmaking in India. She has produced some of the best wildlife films in a nation that has a group of world-famous wildlife filmmakers. She won 4 National Film Awards from the President of India and the Diversity Leadership Award. But another side to her story, an even bigger picture is that she is the founder of the series, Women of the Wild – India. She has also founded the Pakistani and Malaysian chapters of the very successful series on Instagram.

With her two decades of word experience, her works are lauded for their depth in story telling, stunning visuals and an innate empathy for the natural world. She has also won a UN Film Award, and a Global Icon award for Mass Media, and also the Diversity Leadership Award for 2020.

The Women of the Wild – India is a platform for Indian women to showcase their hidden stories in the field of science, nature, and other fields. It is also a haven where women visit and share their proficiencies and experiences. The series showcases their untold stories and allows them to share the experience of bein goccupied in a male-dominated society where a workplace is a typical haven for sexual predators.

Women of the wild grew out of a painful realization during the lockdown period of the pandemic. Akanksha realized that women were for the most part excluded from the core panels of most webinars she attended. Their presence was limited to participating in fringe roles as moderators, a decorative part at best. The whole thing smacked of chauvinism and prejudice.

Women Of The Wild – India Was Born From A Sense Of Despair

 It is around this time that Akanksha, in her role as an advisor, was planning a workshop at Jackson Wild on film making partnering the organization. It involved women in the early and middle stages of their careers. She was astounded that even today, women continued to be excluded from most core groups on grounds of their gender. This bigotry continues to be entrenched in societies within the Indian subcontinent, and that was reflected even in the professional field.

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Exasperated at the absence of opportunities for women in various boards across the profession, Akanksha launched Women of the Wild – India, followed by the Pakistani and Malaysian chapters.

She says that things are more difficult in neighboring Pakistan for women. Parents need to have a very liberal outlook to allow their daughters to continue to pursue higher studies and a profession.

Before she launched Women of the Wild – India, Akanksha mailed a request to around 30 girls for answers to 4 simple queries about their careers, the challenges they confront in their initial foray into their profession, the single occasion that they would mark as being a game-changer, and what they feel should be their message for anyone following in their footsteps.

The first woman to be introduced in Women of the Wild – India, was Aditi Rajagopal, the environment reporter. Rajagopal says that when Akanksha first spoke to him about the idea, she loved the concept. By dint of being first in, she hopes that it would encourage other women to be comfortable enough to come forward and put their profiles on the site.

Women Even Today Continue To Be Marginalized Despite Their Achievements

Even since, over 400 women of various professions have included their profiles to be represented in Women of the Wild – India. They include film-makers, scientists, photographers, researchers, animal rescuers, artists, and others from various professions who have uploaded their profiles onto the platform.

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The Women of the Wild – India holds in its warm embrace the chief of a local weather channel, an environmental advocate, a village safety group member, a plastic recycling initiative founder, and the chief on the nation’s largest youth initiative to preserve water.

Aditi says that she sees the long and perilous journey that women in this country are forced to undertake and how it becomes a blueprint for others to work upon.

The followers in the Instagram account assess through their direct messages and comments they established there even secretly if they wish to conceal their identity.

One post that invited women to assess the Center for Wildlife Studies garnered over a hundred feedbacks, and many of them related to experiencing varying degrees of persecution, lack of alternatives for development, and a noxious work environment.

Within days of the assessment of the Center for Wildlife Studies, the chief conservation researcher of CWS, Krithi Karanth shared her take on the social media account on the page. Titled Working towards a safer and inclusive work environment. Karanth said that the response on the Women of the Wild – India site served as a clarion call for her organization and her personality, and a lot many others. She assured that the organization would henceforth address every legitimate issue highlighted by those associated with the CWS.

Another evaluation, this time of the Bombay Natural History Society, got around another 100 feedbacks. There were accounts of discrimination based on gender at the office. The BNHS president, Bittu Sahgal answered the charges. Hae talked about the need for a systematic change. he detailed the changes taking place at the organization to take care of complaints.

Over 20 organizations have featured and were appraised on Women of the Wild – India. Akanksha hopes that new girls entering these organizations will bring with them a higher degree of confidence in these organizations.

Akanksha says that in the response that she has received from people in these organizations, a sense of belonging has grown among women who are part of Women of the Wild – India. They consider it a safe space, their space.

Women of the Wild – India has been evolving continually and Akanksha is hopeful that she will manage to arrange a mentorship program. She said that there remains a lot that needs to be figured out. It is just the start of the conversation needed to get the woman to join the mainstream of life. She said she wants that the conversation finally reaches just this mainstream.

And on the more positive side, no organization will be able to assert that they could not discover a woman to represent their panel of experts.

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