Asha Dahya is a passionate storyteller, who writes, produces films, and speaks out about empowering women to share their stories and fight for Reproductive Justice and women’s rights to freedom of choice without limitation and judgement. She grew up absorbing the messages of empowering women’s stories through her mother’s love for iconic Indian art house movies that featured heroic women overcoming obstacles. Asha founded GirlTalk HQ as a hobby, a digital support network to give women a place to share their stories, then she wrote a book, Today’s Wonder Women: Everyday Superheroes Who Are Changing the World. Now she is in the final stages of post-production on a short documentary – Someone You Know – featuring three women who made three decisions amidst the hostile landscape that faces women who must get late term abortions. And she’s working on a docuseries with a working title of “Life at All Costs” that looks at the impact of global reproductive rights laws and the impact of criminalization.
Reproductive Rights–A Personal Issue Not a Criminal Offence
After Roe v Wade was overturned, abortion became a criminal offense if it occurs outside of the limitations in place in the locations where it’s still actually permitted. Instead of sending women to jail, or as Asha puts it, “having to contact my legislator to ask what I am allowed to do,” we need to remember that abortion and miscarriages are a matter of healthcare. Asha borrows the phrase “Reproductive Justice” which is a movement of the Black women leaders in the US. Reproductive Justice provides an umbrella for larger issues around reproductive freedoms. She says, “It’s also the right to parent your children in safety and with healthy resources and with the support you need.” She points out that the US is the only developed nation in the world that does not have a national paid family leave program. The stigma and rules that have changed around abortion make using digital media risky also. She says that even asking “how to get an abortion pill if you need it is being flagged as being self-harm on some websites.”
Inspiring Stories of Today’s Wonder Women
The book deal for Today’s Wonder Women came from the stories in GirlTalk HQ. Short stories on everything from “Women in Leadership” to “Women in the Arts” tells stories of women who overcame obstacles, switched careers later in life, won awards and faced discrimination and failure on many fronts to forge ahead through persistence, and finding mentors and supporters along the way. Asha’s own story of an immigrant who didn’t see herself in the media, yet as a young woman pursued a career as a TV host, then young wife and mother until everything fell apart. Her divorce and regrouping led to her current impassioned career, producing film and media about and with other women to change the world.
Listen to or watch this interview to find out more about Asha and how she and Dr. Nancy agree about heroic women’s places in the world. Check out GirlTalk HQ, especially if you want to share your story, and buy and read Today’s Wonder Women. Asha also has a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for “Someone You Know.” Although the initial goal has been met, you can still support Asha through her website.