In the 2020, along with announcing the annual grant for young researchers from the Northeast, Zubaan also introduced the Zubaan-Sasakawa Peace Foundation Grants for Journalists from the Northeast. Aimed at early to mid-career journalists, this particular grant was a direct response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent lockdown, and their impact on the world of waged work, particularly freelance and independent media work in the Northeast and adjoining areas.
10 journalists were selected in total, with their proposals looking at different dimensions of the gendered impact of the pandemic, be it women’s work, access to healthcare, migration, or LGBTQI+ rights. This section contains their articles/photoessays on these various themes that have been published on various online portals and written with the support of the grant.
Mayanglambam Merina Leimarenbi’s articles chronicle the impact of the pandemic in her home state of Manipur.
Her first article Uprooting Lives: The Covid-19 documents the various ways the lockdown imposed in Manipur impacted the lives of the women vendors of the Ema Market. It also highlights inconsistencies in the execution of various aid and relief packages and policies.
Her second article A pinch of blessing with a tonne of a curse looks at the precarious position of nurses in Manipur during the pandemic, and looks at the ways in which the nursing community mobilised to demand their rights.
Manash Pratim Dutta’s pieces look at how the pandemic and lockdown affected the transgender community in Assam.
His first article, Tough Times, focuses on one transgender resident of Bongaigon district and how the lack of access to healthcare facilities (caused mainly by stigma against trans people) affected her and her family.
His second article, Struggle for Survival, looks at the loss of livelihood of trans people experienced during the lockdown, and the violence they faced as a result.
Bhabesh Medhi’s article Ready to Fight provides an insight into the lives of ASHA workers in Assam during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ngurang Reena’s two part series investigates the gendered implications of customary law on women and women’s rights during the lockdown period in the Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh. Read part one Hurt, Angst and Struggle here, and part two (Mrs. Yaji and the Lockdown) here.
Millo Ankha’s photoessay Forgetting Mustard Seeds follows a mother and her family in Arunachal Pradesh as she welcomes a new child during the pandemic.