Barkha Dutt’s ‘We The Women’ Event Closes with Powerful Conversations From Eclectic Mix of Speakers

Business Events | December 22, 2020 | News

Barkha Dutt

‘We The Women’ curated by journalist and Founder-Editor of Mojo Story, Barkha Dutt, concluded its fourth edition on December 18. The global townhall, presented by Facebook in partnership with UN Women, brought conversations from across the world on one virtual stage.

We The Women is a community that connects exemplary women and men from diverse fields spanning cinema, politics and sports to literature and law. The townhall heard the experiences of speakers like Saxophone Subbalakshmi, Time Magazine’s ‘Kid of the Year’  Gitanjali Rao, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, actors Urmila Matondkar, Khushbu Sundar, Nusrat Jahan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonu Sood, as well as Ananya and Neerja Birla and entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, amongst others.

Time Magazine's Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao spoke of her intimate connection with India in a conversation from Colorado. Rao called out the image of “white & male scientists” she sees on American mass media and spoke of 'Kindly', an app she has developed to fight cyber-bullying.

An intimate portrait of Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization, revealed how growing up as the daughter of famed agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan shaped her. Dr Swaminathan, took questions on whether the WHO had fallen short in its response to the pandemic. Sounding a warning against the “fatigue and complacency that has set in”, she said, despite the vaccinations, “the next six months could be worse than what the world has seen so far.”

One of the conversations involved three actors who have moved to politics. Khushbu Sundar (BJP), Urmila Matondkar (Shiv Sena) and Nusrat Jahan (TMC) spoke of being women who have moved from 'Roles to Polls’. All three spoke of being bullied online with violent threats and abuse.

Kareena Kapoor Khan opened up on how “scarred” she felt by the trolling and hounding over her son Taimur. In a 60-minute conversation, she described herself as a "rebel' who was sent to boarding school after she broke open a lock to meet a boy she liked.  She debunked the 'Size Zero' stereotype associated with her by saying "that was only for a movie. I am a growing Punjabi” and called out trolls and sections of the media for "treating the film industry as a soft target".

Divya Gokulnath, Co-founder of the learning app, Byju’s, talked of whether her own children will learn from the app, what she bought with her first salary and the controversy around the White Hat coding programme.

Other speakers included Roopa Kudva, Managing Director of Omidyar; Upasana Taku of MobiKwik; Rashmi Daga of Fresh Menu; Vaishali Sinha of CII; Asha Devi, mother of Nirbhaya, and stand-up comic, Sumukhi Suresh.

The all-women team that developed India's first COVID-testing kit was feted in a session called 'Front-9 Workers'. ‘We The Women’ also unveiled the COVID Courage Awards for 2020 which were given to Kiran Shaw, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Dr Aparna Hegde, Nurse Yogita Bagad who earlier battled Kasab during the terror attacks of 2008 and then served at the frontline of the COVID war, Dr Jayanthi and Aditi Shastri, the mother-daughter duo who have been researching the pandemic and Shruti Dandekar for her mission to spread the availability of masks.

In a session called, 'Men We Love', Dutt spoke to Sonu Sood and Vikas Khanna about their altruistic, humanitarian work during the pandemic and lockdown.

The final speaker was author, food expert and TV host, Padma Lakshmi, who spoke about her deep emotional connect with India, her marriage to ex-husband Salman Rushdie and why this is the year when the personal became the political.

An engaging and thought-provoking platform, ‘We The Women’ was curated virtually by Barkha Dutt and presented by Facebook in partnership with UN Women.

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