Women’s Day 2021: Brands inspire, bat for gender equality

A look at brands that #ChoseToChallenge stereotypes and change the narrative this Women’s Day

NEW DELHI: Every year in the countdown March 8, brands go all out to woo the ‘fairer sex’, leaving no stone unturned. We are bombarded by a plethora of deals for retail therapy and tempting offers for some actual therapy at spas and salons to pamper women this one day of the year. They vie with one another on who can come up with better revolutionary, trendsetting ad campaigns that can grab more number of eyeballs. This year’s no different and in the run up to the much celebrated International Women’s Day, many brands have launched fresh campaigns to mark the occasion.

Let's take a look on who nailed it and who perhaps missed the mark…

OkCupid – ‘Ijazat Hai’

Online dating app OkCupid has released a digital campaign called Ijazat Hai. We are well into the 21st century and yet a majority of women are still raised to believe they need their partner’s permission to pursue a career, many of them still find themselves having to take ‘permission’ to live their life. The ad tries to break down the stereotype that a woman needs to have anyone’s assent for pursuing her dreams and goals or simply to live her life her way. It throws the spotlight on the supposed ‘benefactors’ in a woman’s life who think they are being liberal, broadminded and progressive by ‘allowing’ the women in their life this ‘privilege’. Whereas by needlessly bragging about it they are in fact actually stripping a woman's agency.

Prega News - #SheIsCompleteInHerself

In our society, where the defining purpose of a woman’s life is becoming a mother, infertility is viewed as a curse. To speak out against this bias, pregnancy test kit brand Prega News has released a new ad featuring actress Mona Singh. The ad has been widely acclaimed as shattering a much needed stereotype of an ideal woman. The ad shows Mona Singh as a doting, dutiful daughter-in-law, getting happy for her younger, pregnant sister-in-law. However, her own infertility casts a shadow over her happiness. The ad then showcases how she is also a super achiever, multitasker and superwoman all rolled into one- who ensures the happiness and needs of everyone around her. The ad tries to convey the message that irrespective of being unable to conceive, she is complete in herself.

The description of the ad reads, "Infertility affects every one in six couples in India and the circumstances around them make them suffer in silence. This Women's Day, let's speak up about infertility issues - and make this world a better place for people battling infertility. Prega News urges you to celebrate every woman for who she is because #SheIsCompleteInHerself.” Which is all very great, except that it is precisely what the ad does  not do – “celebrate every woman for who she is.” By showing that only a woman who puts everyone’s needs and happiness above her own deserves her family’s love and acceptance, it is sadly reinforcing other stereotypes while trying to break down one. If only the brand had been bold enough to show an ordinary, everyday woman to  send out this crucial message it would have made it much more effective. Aren’t we women tired of these tropes associated with us, with society constantly trying to either undermine us or else then place us on a pedestal? Can we live a normal life without sky-high societal expectations binding us down please?

Sugar Cosmetics- #EveryWomanIsAWonderWoman 

Something along these lines is what beauty brand Sugar Cosmetics is trying to convey. Through their #EveryWomanIsAWonderWoman digital campaign it urges all women to stay beautifully fearless, while encouraging them to embrace and love everything about themselves, this Women's Day. Its recognises the fact that women are often self-conscious. In the growing age of social media where everyone looks up to someone who has a perfect body, or a beautiful smile, or a bold personality; they are led to believe that they may not be good enough. While we may always be happy to embrace the things we love about ourselves; we tend to shy away from the things we feel that might appear as a flaw. However, nobody is perfect and we are all the best version of ourselves.

The brand says, “When it comes to looking for a Wonder Woman in your life, you don't have to look too far; because you’re a Wonder Woman yourself, we all are. This Woman’s Day, don’t just embrace who you are, but the journey that led you to become who you are. Embrace the scars, the struggles, the defeats and the wins; because everything you are, is everything you are meant to be. Let beauty have no boundaries and rules.”

To this end, the brand aims to engage with approximately 8,000+ influencers to create maximum reach and engagement on this campaign by sharing what they’ve come to accept about themselves and embrace going forward. The posts would read as- “I embrace ________ I am a Wonder Woman!” The influencers will go on and encourage their followers to also participate and join the campaign to celebrate all the wonderful women.  In lines with this theme, Sugar Cosmetics has also launched a limited edition range of mini liquid lipstick sets with names like Fearless, Fighter, Invincible and Adventurous.

MTV India - ‘There’s more to a girl’s life than Shaadi’

While there’s enough and more inspiration to be had from these Women’s Say campaigns, here is one which caught our eye for its quirky humour quotient. The digital campaign by MTV India sends out this message loud and clear: “There’s more to a girl’s life than Shaadi”. The ad is set in the future - in the year 2071 in outer space, perhaps so that the message is not just heard here on earth but also resounds across the universe. It features a female astronaut connecting with her mom back on earth from a spaceship. She talks about the ordeal she underwent to survive, while she discovered an alternate planet for earthlings to inhabit in the future. After patiently hearing her through, her mom hilariously has just one question to ask of her at the end of it, “Shaadi kab karogi beta? (When will you get married, dear?)”

The ad ends with the message, “Kuch toh society kahegi, society ka kaam hain taane dena. But this womens day just say #AawaazNahiAaRahi and move on.” Badass.



A post shared by MTV India (@mtvindia)

WeWork – Feel like you have heard this before?

Co-working spaces brand WeWork’s campaign on International Women’s Day calls out patronising or discriminatory conversations that every woman has been subjected to at some point in their professional journey at their workplaces. The ad starts off with the words “Feel like you’ve heard this before?” and goes on to feature an audio track playing out all the usual dialogues a working woman usually comes across. Which goes to show that despite all the progress women have made in their life and career how certain typecasts and biases still haven't changed across the world. The video is a reflection of the society we have grown up in and the stereotypes women have been subjected to in the workspace. “Let’s take a moment to challenge these biases and work towards an inclusive space,” the ad says.

Voltas beko – “ghar sabki zimmedaari bhi sabki honi chahiye”

This digital commercial is conceptualised by Voltas Beko and Momspresso, a leading platform providing content for the multi-faceted mothers of today. The digital video #GharSabkaZimmedariSabki is an attempt to debunk the age old beliefs that women are solely responsible for looking after every aspect of the household- whether she be a homemaker or working woman. The refreshing message sent out is that if the home belongs to everyone, so does the household responsibilities it entails.

SBI General Insurance - #BringingWomenBackToWork

While it’s nice and "feelgood" to see brands put in so much effort to woo women, it is even more heartening when they go a step further to actually make a difference in their lives. By stepping into their world and trying to understand the problems they face. A tiny step along these lines has been taken by SBI General Insurance, one of India’s leading general insurance companies. To reiterate its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the workplace, SBI General has launched its #BringingWomenBackToWork initiative.  This initiative is a step to encourage and hire women looking to rebuild and resume their careers after a break.  

SBI General Insurance CHRO Sharad Dhakkate says, “With #BringingWomenBackToWork initiative, we aim to provide women a platform to facilitate their journey towards their career goals which they may have put on hold for various reasons. We believe that this initiative will create opportunities as well as enable us to augment our workforce and grow from strength to strength. We are glad to have received an overwhelming response of over 200 applications in response to our social media campaign #BringingWomenBackToWork.”

Now that’s something to cheer for!

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