Authors

Audible India celebrates International Women’s Day

When Aparna Jain was working on the first print edition of her book, Like A Girl: Real Stories for Tough Kids, she never imagined that it would eventually become an audiobook. Then came a chance Instagram interaction. “It happened before I knew it!”

Like A Girl, first published in June 2018, profiles 56 trailblazing Indian women across history. While the book has popular personalities such as Lata Mangeshkar, Mithali Raj and Barkha Dutt, it also introduces readers to lesser-known female luminaries like Assamese activist Birubala Rabha and Malayali missile scientist Tessy Thomas.

The Audible version of the book, released on March 4 to celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8), features an eclectic collection of female narrators, including actors Rasika Dugal and Suchitra Pillai, social entrepreneur Kirthi Jayakumar, and celebrity chef and LGBTQ activist Ritu Dalmia. It also serves as an updated edition, providing key information on some of its subjects, including Dalmia’s involvement as a petitioner in the historic Section 377 case, and Mary Kom’s record-breaking achievement in the 2018 World Boxing Championships.

Bedtime stories

Jain sees the audiobook as another tool to engage with younger readers. “One of the most important things that a primary school educator will tell you is that it is so important to read to a child for 20 minutes before they sleep every day,” she says. In fact, a study published in Pediatrics last year shows that it can help them better control their behaviour when they experience feelings like anger and sadness. “The shocking part is that parents [often] say, ‘How do I read to my child?’ They don’t read aloud themselves. I think it’s wonderful that [with Audible] we now have stories that the child can hear — it’s like a proxy parent,” she quips.

Starting young

This year’s International Women’s Day theme, #BalanceforBetter, has a strong emphasis on improving female representation and reducing gender bias in the workplace. Jain, who is a corporate leadership coach by profession, says that initiatives to improve female representation need to start with the attitudes imparted by parents to their children at home.

“Women are not taught to be successful,” she says. “They’re taught to be successful wives, successful parents — they’re supposed to be successful at making compromises.” And, she says, even when women do enter the workforce, they lack the long-term perspective of a career.

One for the boys

In the preface to Like A Girl, Jain writes that choosing which women to profile in the book was a nightmare and that her editor placed a hard limit on how many made the final version. Although the book is in its second printing, Jain has different plans for the next book in the series. “We’re doing a companion volume for Like A Girl called Boys Will Be Boys, and this is set in today’s world of #MeToo movements and toxic masculinity. We believe that we need to showcase to boys good examples of what men can do.”

Like a Girl is available on audible.in

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Rasika Duggal

Like A Girl is Rasika Dugal’s second Audible narration after narrating Durjoy Datta’s The Last Boy To Fall In Love with Sikander Kher. She says both experiences have been different because she played a character in Last Boy To Fall In Love, while Like A Girl required third-person narration in each of the stories.

Dugal narrates the stories of Sultan Razia, Lata Mangeshkar & Asha Bhosle, Indira Jaising, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Sunita Narain, and Mary Kom in the book. Mary Kom’s story particularly resonated with her. “Mary Kom’s story moves me a lot because she got an Olympic [medal] after having children...women are written off in the professional world for so many reasons, and [her achievement] just defied all of this in one shot.”

Suchitra Pillai

Pillai narrates the stories of Savitribai Phule, Mahasweta Devi, Ela R. Bhatt, Rashida Bi & Champa Devi Shukla, Barkha Dutt, and Saina Nehwal & P.V. Sindhu in the book. “For me, to find out a lot more about these women in this way when I read the book was very exciting for me. The way this book is written is incredible. I say this from the perspective of a mother because once I got the book, I was reading it out to my daughter to see how she reacted….[and] she was completely transfixed….that’s when I figured out that it would be interesting for anyone who is listening.”

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 2:40:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-authors/audible-celebrates-international-womens-day/article26467840.ece

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