Given a Google employee's anti-diversity memo, in which a software engineer criticised the company’s diversity efforts and attributed the tech industry’s gender gap to biological differences, and Taylor Swift’s sexual assault case that went viral over the past few weeks, it goes without saying that feminists in the region and beyond could use a platform to discuss the gender gap and discrimination.
“I have heard many stories of women who stay quiet about injustices they face because silence is seen as a virtue,” shares Pakistan International Women’s Film Festival award winner Sangeeta Nambiar, who spent years working in television and film production in India before moving to Singapore.
The 47-year-old is the creator of Finally She Spoke - a platform to raise awareness about the injustices real women face every day. Gathering stories from women that are centred on gritty issues like paedophilia, she creates them on stage, and plays them out through actors several times a year. “You have to put the spotlight on it, highlight the issue, and say it’s not okay. I want to reach a point where the silence can be broken and the women themselves will actually walk on stage and tell us their own stories,” she says.
Among those she invites to her productions are women’s organisations, who are aware of the kinds of stories she wants to tell, and help link her up with women who are willing to talk about their experiences. “One of these organisations put me in touch with a domestic-violence victim who had undergone 12 years of abuse. It can be cathartic [for a victim] to see her story being played out.”
Still, Sangeeta says it can be challenging to convince other women to watch her work. “Many would rather shun dark stories and see theatre as entertainment. But these stories are real. Burying your head in the sand won’t do service to anyone,” she adds. Sangeeta hopes her work will inspire audiences to effect change within their communities.
Part of the proceeds from her productions also go to a halfway house in Johor, which works to get prostitutes off the street.
Beyond Singapore, Sangeeta spoke at the Women Economic Forum in Amsterdam in January, a conference that aims to drive conversation to effect constructive change.
Photography: Veronica Tay, assisted by Sherman See-Tho
Art Director: Alice Chua
Styling: Bryan Goh
Hair and Beauty: Using Keune HairCosmetics Singapore
Makeup: Toh Xiao Hui/27A.Co
Top: Michael Kors
Location: KC Arts Centre
This story is the fourth of a six part Super She-ro series for August and was originally published in the August 2017 issue of Her World.