Announcing our Fellowship Program Stipend Recipient: Interview with Adrija Jana

Congratulations to Adrija Jana for winning a $100 stipend for her research project as part of I-CREATE YOUTH's 2022 Fellowship Program.


Her project, Representation of Women in Literature: Problems and Diversions, dives into the topic of gender inequality based on Jana's personal and educational experiences. She articulates that "this research is a manifestation of my comparative investigation, and I wish to expand further on this topic in the future."


I remember that when I was very young, I was gifted dolls and kitchen sets to play with, most of them on a pink theme. Even the walls of my room were pink. On the other hand, my brother always had toy cars, helicopters and robots to play with. Even though I liked these gifts, I didn't like the color pink. Both my brother and I preferred blue. I sometimes wondered why I couldn't play with cars and why my brother was not given kitchen sets. I once even thought that there was something wrong with me: girls are supposed to like pink, right?

Jana has been awarded the fellowship stipend for her dedication throughout the program, leadership, and skillful completion of her research project. I-CREATE YOUTH is proud to support her work and is excited to see what Jana achieves next.


Founding Executive Director of I-CREATE YOUTH Jessica (Jess) Kim interviewed Adrija Jana, winner of I-CREATE YOUTH's $100 stipend for the annual Fellowship Program.


Adrija Jana is a passionately creative writer based in India. Apart from being a writer, Adrija is also a Spoken Word Artist, Theatrecian, Filmmaker and creative researcher, and all her work is woven together by common themes. She believes that creative pieces that let the innate imperfection shine through truly touch hearts. Being an empathetic soul, Adrija loves to take care of stray animals and devotes much of her time to social services. She has worked with several magazines and youth organisations across the globe and is an ardent and committed activist in the field of advocacy against Period Poverty and Education Inequity. Adrija is not just a creative artist, but also a creative activist, as she channelises her creative interest and energy to raise her voice about issues she's passionate about, and empowers to speak out for themselves.



Adrija in a purple saree (traditional Indian attire) with plants in the background.
Adrija in a purple saree (traditional Indian attire) with plants in the background.

I-CREATE YOUTH is an organization that empowers, educates, and connects disabled youth through language in its various forms, from poetry to programming. We teach creative writing workshops, host fellowship and summer research programs, and curate monthly exhibitions featuring disabled changemakers, all in an effort to connect disabled youth and communicate their stories with the world. Learn more about us at icreateyouth.com.



 

Jessica Kim: Can you tell us more about yourself?


Adrija Jana: I am Adrija Jana from India, and am a Student Activist, Creative Artist, Researcher and Moongazer. I mostly create poetry pieces based on her personal experiences as well as social issues I am passionate about. My work mostly revolves around protest against period poverty, marital rape and advocating for freedom of choice, apart from emotional self-lived experiences. I am inspired by writers such as Margaret Mitchell and Nayyirah Waheed, as well as the minutiae of everyday life.

JK: What made you interested in I-CREATE YOUTH's fellowship program?


AJ: When I came across I-Create Youth, I was really inspired by the mission of the organisation to advocate in the field of disability rights. I-Create Youth's fellowship programme seemed to me a comprehensive, impactful initiative for students like me to move towards making a difference in society. Being really inspired, I wanted to be a part of the fellowship as well and contribute my own input.

JK: Your fellowship project focuses on the representation of women in literature. Why is this topic important and what did you take away from the project?


AJ: My project, "Representation of Women in Literature: Problems and Diversions" is a very ambitious project I have wanted to take up for a long time. Some of the texts I refer to have been around for a very long time, and the prejudices I discuss are quite deeply rooted in our society. So, I was aware that was a possible risk of backlash if I conducted this research, but keeping quiet about the rampant gender-based discrimination and violence I see around me would have been a bigger issue in my view.

Through my project, I realised that a lot of this discrimination is actually rooted in the literature that has been fed to society, and I try to point out these aspects. At the same time, I also focus on texts that divert from these discriminatory norms, to highlight that things have been done differently and there is still scope and hope to move towards equity.


JK: Do you have any thoughts about disability rights and representation in today's society?


AJ: I feel that there is a lot of work that can be done in the world in the field of disability rights today, especially in countries like India. We have hardly touched the tip of the iceberg. Even today, when the topic of disability rights comes up, many people are of the opinion that "Disabled individuals are a burden to the society and should not be given rights," which is biased and partisan. There is no recognition of the value these individuals bring to our society, or the lessons in strength and resilience that they teach us. Yes, I feel in some ways they are being more represented in mass media today, but there is definitely a lot of scope for improvement. The goal should be to create a world where disabled individuals, like everyone else, are treated with the respect they deserve and the courtesy they are due.


JK: Beyond the fellowship program, how will you use your creativity and dedication to pursue your passions?


AJ: I see myself as a creative activist, that is, I use my research and creative work in my advocacy initiatives. After the fellowship, I have been using my writing, research and filmmaking to advocate for issues I'm passionate about- menstrual equity, refugee rights and educational equity among others, and will continue to do so.


JK: What are three things you think should change in today's society?


AJ: One thing that should definitely change is the lack of confidence in young people. We have some groundbreaking ideas, and they can probably be more successful with the support of adults. Another aspect is definitely the sexist language in textbooks that sanctions the traditional sexual division of labour and limits the freedom of women and queer individuals. And finally, the culture of violence and cruelty against those who are different from us, that is growing more and more serious by the day, needs to be immediately stopped.

Learn more about Adrija Jana on Instagram @adrija_jana2004 and @visionsinsideout_official, as well as at linktr.ee/Adrija_Jana.