By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 25, Sep 2010, 18:37 pm IST | UPDATED: 25, Sep 2010, 19:21 pm IST
On the Closing Day of Asia Summit to Empower Women a packed audience of delegates and international guests was in attendance for the first production of SEVEN in Asia.The closing evening of the summit was concluded with the documentry play capturing the remarkable lives of a diverse and courageous group of seven women leaders from around the world.
The world acclaimed documentry play, SEVEN, was staged in New Delhi featuring seven acclaimed Indian actresses. Shabana Azmi, celebrated actress and women’s advocate, championed the Delhi production, taking it upon herself to engage fellow actresses in the staging after being moved by the SEVEN script depicting the real life stories of remarkable heroines.
Featured actresses included: Shabana Azmi in the role of Inez McCormack; Urmila Matondkar in the role of Farida Azizi; Tannishtha Chatterjee in the role of Hafsat Abiola; Mahira Kakkar in the role of Mukhtar Mai; Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal in the role of Anabela de Leon; Tanvi Azmi in the role of Marina Pisklakova-Parker; and Jayati Bhatia in the role of Mu Sochua.
Hafsat Aboila of Nigeria,While a student at Harvard, her father, President of Nigeria and her mother were murdered by a military junta that took over the Nigerian government. Hafsat went home with a new mission, to make a positive change for her country. She founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND) an NGO that train 1000 young Nigerian women a year in job skills and helps them create and run radio stations.
-The role was played by Tannishtah Chatterjee.
Farida Azizi is from Afganistan. Because of her courageous work with women, Farida's life was threatened and she was granted asylum in the US with her family in 2000. She was trained to create a network of Afgan women refugees in US. They also worked with her as she appeared before Congress and the White House events to give her testimony on the importance of investing in women in war torn societies. She returned to Afganistan where she created the Afganistan Back to Work/ Back to School Project, in which Farida engaged Afgan widows to sew school uniforms for 1,50,000 girls using fabric and supplies donated by American companies. thes egirls returned to Afganistan after the fall of Taliban.
-The role was played by Urmila Matondkar.
Anabella de Leon of Guetmala was played by Mahabanoo Mody Kotwala. As a lightening rod in the crusade for ethical transperancy in Central American governments,Anabella's life has been threatened so amny times that she in under a protection order decreed by the Organisation of American States. Her initiative and determinatuion raised Anabella out of extreme poverty to become an attorney, member of the Congress of the Republic and an outspoken advocate against corrupt elements in the Guatemalan government. She has been active since 1998 and has spearheaded programs to identify and train a generation of women politicians in Guatemala.
In 1993 Marina Pisklakova of Russia founded Centre ANNA, the first hotline and crisis and councelling centre in Russia. In a country where one in four wives experience violence at the hands of her husband, Marina has made a monumental dofference for ehr fellow citiens. She now has a network of 170 councelling centres throughout Russia serving 100,000 women a year.She has authored 2 books and works towards halting trafficking of women and girls from Euraisa.
The role was played by Tanvi Azmi.
Mukhtaran Mai of Pakistan sounded an international alarm about 'honor crimes' against women in rural Pakistan, when she refused to accept victimhood after being gang raped by four men from rival tribe in her remote village . Instead of taking the traditional 'women's route of committing suicide she brought her rapists to justice and built schools for boys and girls in her villag with money awarded her by a trial court.
Some of her country's government had tried to have her jailed, but when she was awarded with the Fern Holland Human Rights award, she was welcomed at a reception in her honor at the embassy of Pakistan where the ambassador praised her for 'her work on behalf of women and children in Pakistan.'Illiterate when she was attacked in 2002, Muktaran triumphed to write an autobiography and used the profits to open a shelter for women victims of violence.
Her motto: End Opression with Education.The role was played by Mahira Kukkar.
Despite being raised in a Protestant culture that taught her to be suspicious of and seperate of Catholics, Inez McCormack of Northern Ireland married a catholic and has become a long time activist and bridge builder among different religious and cultural coalitions. In 1998 she worked closely with Hillary Clinton. Sinc ethen she worked for Catholics and Protestant women leaders who help build peace and economic progress.
The role was played by Shabana Azmi.
Ma Soucha a towering personality from Cambodia had a touching story as well. To gain freedom from the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, Soucha's parents put her alone on a plane to Paris. It was 1972 and she never saw them again. After 18 years of exile and a successful career in US as social worker, Soucha returned to Cambodia and found her coutry transformed into what Time magazine called "a pervert's paradise" where women and girls were so devalued that becoming a sex worker was a common fate.
She was honored in 2005 for her efforts in combating child trafficking in Cambodia. As minister of Women's affairs, Soucha negotiated an agreement with Thailand allowing Cambodian women trafficked as sex workers there to return to their home country in lieu of being jailed. She pioneered the use of frank television commercials to spread the word about trafficking to vulnerable young girls and boys.Soucha continues to be steadfast in calling for international attention to government corruption and human rights abuses in her government.
The role was played by Jayati Bhatia.
Sochua the Cambodian Oppostiton leader whose real life story was enacted by Jayati Bhatia said that the theatrical depiction of women’s stories of tragedy and triumph never fails to move her:
“Each time I see SEVEN, I hold my breath. I still cry.”
Shabana Azmi commented on both her involvement in the production as an women’s activist, and her experience as an actress:
“It’s hugely inspiring. What we did is surrender totally to the lives of these extraordinary women. All we could do is try to communicate their stories. It was a tribute, and a very humbling experience.”