The last few months have been particularly hard for everyone, more so for those who don’t have the luxury to work from home. These include frontline workers like doctors and nurses, delivery agents, and many more people, including journalists, who have been out in the field every single day to bust fake news and bring truth to the public.
Ever since the lockdown began, some brave women journalists have been out and about, taking risks to share stories of the destitute in both rural and urban areas. Several of them have also gone on to initiate relief efforts to provide assistance to those in need.
Let’s take a look at these fearless women.
Veteran journalist Barkha Dutt has always shown exemplary courage in her reporting, whether it was during the Kargil war of 1999 or the 26/11 attacks of 2008. And her reportage of the Covid-19 pandemic was no different. Having founded her own channel, MoJo story, Barkha drove across India and brought to us hard-hitting stories of the migrant exodus amidst the pandemic. She shared the struggles of the oppressed, earning praise for giving a voice to them.
In one instance, an ambulance was arranged only after she raised her voice on how miserably the bodies of workers, who died in the Auraiya truck accident in UP in May, were being transported.
In an open truck, UP sent bodies of those workers killed in #AuraiyaAccident, in plastic bags, placed on ice slabs that melted, along with those who were injured. @HemantSorenJMM objected and an ambulance was then arranged. Look at this. It says everything about these 2 months pic.twitter.com/vOiZaQTw14
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 19, 2020
A vocal critic of the Right wing, this award winning journalist and author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover up, set an example for fellow journalists during the pandemic.
Soon after the lockdown began, she got together with a group of volunteers and started a relief campaign to provide ration for poverty-stricken people. Even during Ramzan, she ensured the relief efforts didn’t come to a halt, and raised Rs 1.75 crore on a crowdfunding platform.
Distribution in the temple premises today by volunteers who were fasting for Ramzan and beneficiaries were the local adivasis and tribals. This unity is what the country needs in this hour of crisis. Proud of all our volunteers. A hugely satisfying day of our relief campaign. pic.twitter.com/xNwzKwC5JD
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) May 20, 2020
Having worked on-ground during the peak of the pandemic, Rana, too contracted the COVID-19 virus; she has recovered now. Besides her relief efforts, she has shared authentic information about the pandemic in the last few months, to help the public differentiate between real and fake news.
Ever since the pandemic began, Faye has provided her viewers with in-depth reportage, whether it is about working in PPE kits, change in labour laws, or even the Amphan cyclone that hit West Bengal in May. Her YouTube channel has been the epicentre of several pertinent subjects, with prominent faces being a part of hard-hitting discussions.
— Faye DSouza (@fayedsouza) May 25, 2020
She also donated her first earnings on her YouTube channel to buy N95 masks for an NGO that helps pregnant women in remote areas.
The economy has weakened over the last few months, leaving those in lower-income groups in a lurch. Amongst the worst hit during the lockdown were farmers, who were struggling to sell their produce.
Journalist Ashwini Sripad, who works with New Indian Express, went on ground to share their stories, and also took it upon herself to help them. She also helped them in their sales, besides shedding light on several other issues.
I am just a full time Journalist with The New Indian Express & have NO EXPERIENCE IN FARMING. Just making best utilise of my 9k followers to reach customers for farmers through #RaithaSahaaya , will continue to do this till lockdown period.If this helps them, nothing like it.
— Ashwini M Sripad (@AshwiniMS_TNIE) April 22, 2020
Rituparna Chatterjee, who is also known as MasalaBai on Twitter, is the Director of Communications for Ungender, a legal advisory firm. She has always been a strong advocate of women’s rights, and has raised her voice for menstrual equity. During the lockdown, she went on-ground to report the struggles that women doctors and nurses face in PPE kits, especially when they menstruate. Her report brought to light how challenging it is for women to deal with these kits during their periods.
I spoke to frontline workers — doctors, anganwadi didis, journalists and relief volunteers — to understand the ordeal they are going through right now, bleeding inside their PPEs. No one thought of the need of menstruators when designing protective gear. https://t.co/JtehaIaOhy
— Rituparna Chatterjee (@MasalaBai) May 19, 2020
Apart from that, her #Sisterhood thread on Twitter has always aimed to help fellow women find jobs, and during a time when layoffs and pay cuts are particularly common, it has proved to be extremely helpful.
Supriya Sharma, Executive Editor at Scroll, is known for her ‘journalism of courage’ and this time, too, she didn’t bat an eyelid to get real stories from the hinterlands of India. During her intensive reporting in Uttar Pradesh, she found herself embroiled in a controversy. The story spoke about food distress in Domari village that was adopted by PM Modi, amid the nationwide lockdown. An FIR was registered against her by a villager from Varanasi; but Supriya succeeded in defending herself.
Will the prime minister extend the 5kg free foodgrains for another three months given most Indians still don't have any work and income?
If there's one thing that helped millions survive the last three months, it was the free ration.
— Supriya Sharma (@sharmasupriya) June 30, 2020
In the last few months, several journalists have been called out for their reporting, and even threatened, to expose the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. These women, however, continue to inspire by being true to their conscience and to the people of India.
(Edited by Athira Nair)