The three-day Indian Association of Women’s Studies (IAWS) North East Regional E-Conference on “Gender during COVID-19: Perspectives from North East India” held from 25-27 August 2020, attempted to address the voices and experiences of marginalised groups, especially in relation to women from North East India; and considered the diverse and manifold issues which have impacted their lives in the times of COVID-19. This e-conference was jointly hosted by fourteen organisations, including eight major universities of the North East India and research institutes, and women’s collectives and social groups from the region making it the largest women’s studies initiative in North East India. Addressed by Dr Meera Velayudhan, President IAWS and Prof Ishita Mukhopadhyay, Convenor and treasurer of IAWS, the conference opened to a very large virtual presence amidst prominent academics and activists from the region.
Dibrugarh University was one of the collaborating institutions and the Centre for Women’s Studies, Dibrugarh University actively participated in this E-conference. The Chairperson of the Centre Dr. Nasmeem F. Akhtar along with Debajanee Bora, Research Assistant of the Centre, were members of the Organising Committee of the E-conference. There were eight Sub-themes of the E-conference and Dr. Nasmeem Akhtar was the Coordinator of the ‘Sub-theme 1: Women’s Protection and Safety’ and Debajanee Bora coordinated the ‘Sub-theme 3: Women and Health’. Dibrugarh University also hosted two technical sessions of the E-conference on the second day i.e. 26 August 2020 with the help of Barnali Das and Dr. Lonee Dowerah, faculty members of the Centre for Women’s Studies. The sessions were also streamed live in YouTube by the Technical Officer of Dibrugarh University Karunakar Borah.
The exchange of views in this e-conference has paved new ways of understanding the onslaught of COVID-19 and how it has amplified gender inequality in recent times, disrupted existing modes of living in the context of women, as visible both with respect to their household dynamics and the professional front. In this context, the three-day discussions provided a common platform to prominent academicians and intellectuals, scholars and researchers to throw light on those areas which would reflect on the coping mechanisms of women in North East regions during this pandemic, and further unpack and unveil their unheard voices of resilience.