Kashmiri video reporter Nadiya Shafi Gadda was awarded the ‘Most Promising Individual’ at Martha Farrell Awards 2018 for ‘fearlessly reporting stories of Kashmir’s women’. Martha Farrell is a foundation that ‘supports practical interventions which are committed to achieving a gender-just society and promoting life-long learning.’
The foundation is named after Martha Farrell who was a passionate civil society leader, renowned and respected in India and around the world, for her work on women’s rights, gender equality and adult education. She was among the 14 people killed in a terrorist attack on a guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 13, 2015.
Profiled on Farrell’s website, apart from her work it is mentioned that ‘Like Martha, Nadiya has shown indomitable courage and commitment to work for women’s empowerment and gender equality. Her work and fearlessness will ease the path for the coming generation of strong and independent women in Jammu and Kashmir.’
Nadiya who is also a social activist belongs to Chattabal area of Downtown Srinagar. In 2014, when floods hit the entire valley, Video Volunteers, a human rights and community media organisation had started working in Kashmir. Nadiya decided to work with them and her first report published with them was on Transgenders.
Nadia can be seen in a video posted on the official website saying, “I am a Kashmiri female. We have faced problems. There are certain things here that inspire us to work. For example, the condition here, sufferings of females, that we know.”
“I am not denying that there is no conflict here. It is. But, if we look beyond it, there are many issues like domestic violence, educational issues, health issues, roads and drainage, that we ignore,” she adds.
Nadiya also facilitated a group discussion in Gender Discussion Clubs in Srinagar where women could freely talk and share their stories. She has interviewed over 100 half widows documenting extensively the daily reality of their lives.
As per the foundation, during 2016 people’s uprising, she would drive on her scooty into the ‘danger zones’ to document the violence, state impunity and how it impacted the locals. She has also done a case study on women affected by K-conflict which was followed by the NDTV.
“The females would always tell me that they were not able to talk about certain issues with their parents or brothers (sexual harassment/ menstruation etc). Even if they did, they would not be allowed to study after that. While men harass, we are stopped from going out or pursuing education. The culprits move freely in Kashmir,” she says.
Her father Mohammad Shafi Gadda in the same video talks about her work and his apprehensions related to it. He says, “Due to the situation in Kashmir, we would be a little worried when she would leave home. I would ask her to leave home early and come back earlier in the evening. Rest, I let her work like boys do.”
Sajad Rasool, her fiancé says, “People don’t talk much about the gender issues but Nadiya took the lead. The way she meets people or talks to them about their issues; creating a debate about it, inspired me as well.”
Zuhaib Ashraf, her colleague at Video Volunteers says that it is important for women to talk about women issues so there is no adulteration in it. The way she is, she can do very well.”
She continues to stay committed towards her work documenting the voices of Kashmiri women, spreading gender discussion clubs in all districts of Kashmir. And imparting gender training and creating a gender just society across the state.