The IAA Voice of Change Hyderabad concludes.

The IAA Voice of Change Hyderabad concludes.

The event’s chief guest was Telangana Governor Lt. Governor Dr.Tamilisai Soundararajan.

Mumbai: Telangana Governor and Puducherry Lt. Governor Dr. (Smt.) Tamilisai Soundararajan called out that people should always protest against the discriminatory portrayal of women in movies and advertisements of companies. “Share thIS to break the bias together”, she asserted, while talking about gender sensitisation in all aspects.

The Governor spoke at a summit on ‘Voice Of Change: Gender Sensitisation’ in Media on 3 February at T-Hub, Hyderabad, where she was invited as the Chief Guest. The summit was organised by the International Advertising Association (IAA), India chapter. The theme was Gender Portrayal in all forms of media, from a 30 second TV commercial to a three hour film.

The event was held with the aim of curbing and eradicating gender discrimination and stereotyping of women in advertisements, print media, videos and cinema. People should reject such advertisements and movies and make their objections clear, the Governor said. She expressed her concern that although this trend is visible in social media, the discrimination continues in the wider society.

Dr(Smt)Tamilisai Soundaryarajan, on this occasion, explained as an example that women areconstantly being discriminated against every time and the woman is shown with a certain point of view. She cited an example that she herself faced recently while she was waiting at the airport.

A lady had pointed out to her eight-year-old daughter and said that she was the Governor of Telangana. The girl did not believe her mother and said that women could not be governors and only old men were. She also called out a print advertisement that announced cooking utensils would be given as prizes for a Women’s Day competition which showed the limited view of how women were only limited to kitchens.

The Governor expressed her delight when the Union Aviation Minister informed her that there are now more women pilots than men in the country, but many people in society still see women in old and stereotypical ways. Mentioning gender discrimination in advertisements she cited another example where a woman traffic constable was shown catching hold of a man. Though she was appy to see a woman police officer, she was shocked to see that she falls for a man wearing a banian and realised that it was an advertisement for men’s underwear which was again stereotyping the woman.

Citing another instance during her career as a gynecologist at Thanjavur Medical College she observed an incident of partiality by a mother of twins, a boy and a girl. The girl was weak and the boy was healthy, so when she asked why, the mother mentioned that she gave her breast milk to the boy and diluted cow’s milk to the girl. The mindset of society should change regarding such issues. Those who make advertisements are also requested to contribute their help to this change. She praised the IAA and the people from the media and advertisement sectors that the Voice of Change was a welcome development to discuss such a topic related to gender sensitisation. She added further that women in society had to work ten times harder in all aspects and this situation needs to be changed, and this change is possible only by clearly expressing their objections to gender discrimination and stereotyping.

Earlier UNICEF India representative and Public Private Partnerships Specialist Geetanjali Master disclosed the details of UNICEF’s research on gender discrimination and stereotyping in advertisements. The Voice Of Change was started as a behaviour change communication initiative that was aimed at addressing the skewed portrayal of gender in the field of advertising and communication with the launch of the Geena Davis study with UNICEF, in September last year. The facts presented in the study, based on the evaluation of more than 1000 plus ads, showed a disturbing trend of widespread gender stereotyping and prejudice.

Population First director Dr. A.L. Sharada said that discrimination and stereotyping of women in advertisements, movies, and other content have become rampant. She explained that due to digital media, there is an opportunity to discuss women’s issues in detail, advertising and other content have reduced the denigration of women, and youth advertising has more inclusive content. She also spoke about the need to systematically change the patriarchal attitude and check gender reporting which had changed after the Nirbhaya episode. She also spoke about the Me Too movement which had brought about a change in balanced reporting. Dr. AL Sharada expressed the hope that this change will continue in the future.

In another presentation, Accenture managing director Charulata Ravikumar gave a speech on the topic of Responsible Communication and explained that gender discrimination is already ongoing in the content. IAA India Chapter President Avinash Pandey and IAA Women’s Empowerment Committee Chairperson Nina Elavia Jaipuria also spoke at the event while setting the context.

A panel discussion was held on the topics of Gender Conscious and Purposeful Entertainment, where conscious creativity in films, OTT and advertising was discussed. Anchor Swapna acted as the coordinator while film actor/director Avarasala Srinivas, director Nandini Reddy, director of fetal medicine at Rainbow Hospitals Dr. Pranathi Reddy and IPS officer Shikha Goel participated. An engaging panel discussion where the participants shared insights about their careers. While Nandini Reddy said that coming from society, films reflect what is shown in society and vice versa. While Srinivas Avasarala said that Gender parity was not the actual issue, but women faced many other issues, especially representation. Dr Pranathi spoke about the Bedchal test and how advertisements need to pass the measures of the representation of women in films, and advertisements. She said that the media should break the stereotype of how men are shown in a patriarchal way and they should now be shown differently in advertisements and in a more sensitive manner.

IPS officer Shikha Goel spoke about how people in real life are influenced by the reel portrayal of life. She cited examples of the NCR Shraddha Walker case where the perpetrator was influenced by a web series. She mentioned that cinema was a powerful medium that influenced people and the hero worship by many people aping them has also resulted in crimes as it is accepted by them. Nandini Reddy spoke about how sensibilities are important for filmmakers and lead actors. They should be able to come out in the open and express their true opinions. She also spoke about how the OTT as a visual medium had given a platform for many people to express things from the right perspective which could not be shown in regular films.

IAA Women's Empowerment Committee CEO of Cosmos Maya India Pvt Ltd Co Chair Megha Tata, moderated a panel discussion titled Gender Conscious Creativity in Communications where C Principal Secretary Jayesh Ranjan, IAS, RK Swamy BBDO Vijay Gopal, Associated Advertising CMD Hemantha Agarwal and Tooth Company founder Dr. Shailee Swarop participated. Jayesh Ranjan spoke about how a study conducted on the Nirbhaya convicts; family members showed how a family shaped a person and the way the world is viewed. He said that Child rearing practices are most important to change misogyny. Vijay Gopal spoke about change being prevalent in advertising and that people who run campaigns are not aware of their power through such ads. He spoke of the concept where Brands are where the company meets society and perspectives are changing. Hemanth spoke of the need of getting more insights into society and observations about why divorces are rampant in society. While men and women are working it is the woman who is relegated to taking care of the household.

Dr. Shailee shared a perspective that even though the maximum number of dentists were women, advertisements still portrayed males as dentists. She said that there should be a shift in the way ads are showing a perfect set of white teeth as a perfect smile.There should be a change in narrative.

In a question related to how the bring and drive the change, Jayesh Ranjan said that it was necessary to bring changes at the grass root level and the use of vernacular mediums to bring changes in the rural areas was necessary to bring a gradual change. Industry and Government goals should be aligned and strong campaigns like the Beti Padao Beti Bachao campaign was one such example to drive home the point.

Swapna moderated the last fireside chat session titled ‘Conscious Creativity in Films OTT and Advertising’, where Femina Miss India 2020 Manasa Varanasi and WE HUB CEO Deepthi Ravula participated. Manasa spoke about how the notion of beauty had changed and that it was more of a celebration, while Deepthi said the actual narration hasn’t changed in ads except that women were now shown in many ways as a career woman, a super mom and wife, and a boss. Social media influencing and changing the shift in the paradigm of beauty was delved upon. Manasa spoke about how earlier if one was shown in a sexual manner which was perceived to be objectifying the woman, but now a woman has learned to embrace her sexuality while dealing with the beauty industry.

Deepthi stated that things at WE HUB were different and it was all about how getting things done was important. Manasa spoke about how creativity was driven by capitalism and this should be changed. Deepthi spoke about how one should not rely on mediums for change and that a conversation was needed to spark the change. Manasa when asked what was needed to be a Voice of Change stated that curiosity and challenge were needed to become the voice of change. Deepthi reflected that reading extensively and speaking more were needed for an individual and that it was more important to look for significance than success in the long run.

Sakshi Media Group was the principal partner and UNICEF the knowledge partner for this event.