Jaipur: Feminism in India is synonymous with Urvashi Butalia, director and co-founder of Kali for Women, India’s first ever publishing house that exclusively focuses on women’s writing.
A leading authority on feminist discourse, gender issues and communalism, Butalia’s publishing house gave much needed impetus to women’s writing in India, something which was always considered to be the a male prerogative.
Talking exclusively to Aman Kanth of Spicezee.com on Day 2 of DSC Jaipur Literary Festival 2011, Urvashi Butalia spoke at length about contemporary Indian women and her upcoming works.
Aman: When we talk of gender issues, how liberated are women in today’s times?
Urvashi: Look, it is very difficult to say as it is a class based issue. Some women, who come from well-off sections of society, are enjoying freedom and some, who are not so well-off, are not.
Aman: With Kali and Zubaan, you disseminate women writing. Do you think you have been successful in making women writing more read and heard?
Urvashi: I hope so; it has been more than two decades since the time we started. Today, women’s writing is not only being accepted, but it has also been taken seriously. I am still not the best judge, nowadays there are big publishers who are into women’s writing. Women are getting heard.
Aman: Your ‘In Other Side of Silence’, ‘Women and the Hindu Right’ and ‘Speaking Peace’ are canonical texts. Tell us something about them?
Urvashi: ‘In Other Side of Silence’ took ten years of research. ‘Women and the Hindu Right’ was published in 1995 and was based on women’s movement. There was also a concern about militant Hindu women. I hope it made some kind of difference in the position of women in Hindu society. ‘Speaking Peace’ was based on Kashmiri women; no one had focused on the issued faced by Kashmiri women.
Aman: Are you working on any upcoming book?
Urvashi: Yes, I am working on something new though I hardly get time to write. I have been writing a book on eunuchs which will take four-five years to finish; I am a very slow writer.
I am also writing about cultural politics and women and partition. In addition, I am working on the history of my grandfather’s house in Lahore.