Championing women’s causes

‘Khud Se Pooche’ campaign, led by and for women, aims to promote accessibility to dignified healthcare through innovative storytelling, dialogues and activities

Pea’s women-centric approach is led by diverse stories, dialogues and activities that revolve around women’s rights and feminism.
Pea’s women-centric approach is led by diverse stories, dialogues and activities that revolve around women’s rights and feminism.

The large pea-shaped mask of Princess Pea is not just a trademark living sculpture—it also comes with a sense of responsibility. In her own innovative and artistic flair of storytelling, the anonymous Gurugram-based visual and performance artistnow aims to raise awareness on access to dignified healthcare for women in Patna, Bihar through her latest campaign.

Pea’s women-centric approach is led by diverse stories, dialogues and activities that revolve around women’s rights and feminism. In her collaboration with the women-centric campaign ‘Khud Se Pooche’, she co-creates a visually appealing installation using textiles, embroidery, and patchwork to create a site-specific artwork. It will be displayed in the citylater this month.

Identified by her large anime head,Princess Pea is synonymous with the contemporary art and fashion world.Breaking into the art scene in 2009 with her solo at the India Art Fair, the artist then made some stirring walks at public places or events like the Lakme Fashion Summer Resort Week 2018, probing society and identity with an underlying satire on global concerns.

But in the latest women-centric campaign, she highlights gender-based discrimination in society through her workshops which aim to lower inhibitions and encourage sharing of personal narratives. Insights from these sessions will form the basis of a symbol for the campaign that represents dignity for all women of Patna. “My projects have mostly included housewives, small entrepreneurs, differently-abled women along with women who have suffered abuse, suffer from body image related violence and mental health amongst themes of visibility and systemic erasure. This is a unique opportunity where the intervention can become a symbol of strength and a demand for dignity,” says Princess Pea.

The Khud Se Pooche campaign is led by and for women to promote accessibility to dignified healthcare. It is developed by organisations including Sakhi, Gaurav Gramin Mahila Vikas Manch and Bihar Youth for Child Rights with support from organisations including BihArt, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion, Population Foundation of India and the Lion’s Club of Patna.

With over 1,000 women and girls in the age group of 18-30, the programme will equip women in Patna with digital storytelling skills around health care and amplify voice via social media, public events. A series of road shows in October and November by the National School of Drama artists performing street plays across 20 locations in Patna, besides women community building through leadership and storytelling skills, were held. The aim is to have women define their own narratives via various platforms and ask for healthcare as a human right.

“While the campaign is an opportunity for young women across Patna to raise their voices and break the taboos around their healthcare facilities, this is such a big deal for women who are left unattended or feel worthless. Most times they accept this as part of their everyday life. The idea is to change the course of action at micro and macro levels ultimately shaping their life as a whole,” says Patna-based Sagrika Singh, director of programmes, NGO Sakhi.

With India’s overall healthcare infrastructure in poor state, there’s a need for sensitisation, especially among women, to tackle issues related to periods, abortion, and pregnancy. The lack of ‘dignity’ in healthcare is a deterrent for women approaching health-related services. Access to proper healthcare services has always been a concern for women in Patna; however, the quality of these services is usually ignored.

The Indian Women’s Health Report 2021 surveying 1,000 working women aged between 25 and 55 years across seven cities has revealed that around half of them are not comfortable talking about one or more health issues due to the prevalent societal taboo and stigmas associated with them. A study conducted by Emcure Pharmaceuticals in association with Ipsos Research Private Limited (Ipsos India) shows insights on the social, cultural and medical outlook for working women and finds solutions involving various stakeholders.

The survey revealed health-related stigmas faced by women working in white-collar jobs, their social and professional issues. Key findings denote 90% of working women face a conflict of interest while balancing familial, personal and professional obligations; 86% of working women have observed their colleagues, relatives or friends drop out of the workforce, 59% cited health issues as the main reason.

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