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JWT Coffee & Donuts: Unrestrained- How The woman narrative is righting itself: Bindu Sethi

26-February-2018
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JWT Coffee & Donuts: Unrestrained- How The woman narrative is righting itself: Bindu Sethi

We are in the midst of a revolution. Women are discovering their power, changing the core institution of family and the world as we know it. Our attempt is to understand the cultural shifts that are unfolding and their consequent impact on communication; has she moved beyond our perspective of her in the mirror we are holding up? 

(Pic: Amruta Patil)


PUSHING BACK PATRIARCHY
While patriarchy may change its shades from strangulating to benign to even empowering; it remains the truth of her environment. The choices she makes are judged by the parameters set by it. Whether it is the more visible ‘strangulating patriarchy’ that restricts her freedom or the more ‘benign patriarchy’ that restricts her ambition.



The woman of today wants to get past the designated role-play to find her own identity. While constructing a family, she is trying to create space for her own ambitions. Her conflict though is in trying to manoeuvre her way towards leading a quality life, while challenging patriarchy. 

Most Indian women believe that they are not barriers to their own success. They acknowledge that it would be their family, parents, or spouse that present barriers to them achieving their full potential. But they are significantly more confident today that they can achieve their goals by rising above patriarchy.




NAVIGATING THE AGGRESSIVE ENVIRONMENT
It’s not just about the patriarchal blocks; as she steps out to carve her desired life, she is faced with a physically unsafe, bullying, aggressive environment. From cat calls to casting couches; she must arm herself with tricks, gumption and a spine of steel deal with it all; to be able to navigate with her dreams unquestioned or even worse, paused. That’s probably why Indian women are feeling the need to be both stronger and bolder in comparison to their global brethren. 




TAKING ON SOCIAL JUDGEMENT
Every push towards a change in narrative is met with judgement. Reasonable enough desires to delay marriage/kids or adopt unconventional careers or even explore her sexual freedom are under scrutiny. To carve out a sense of herself and not be held back by old narratives, she is taking a stance against judgment; only she should have a point of view on how she lives her life.

Women are breaking on through to the other side where they are transforming from victims to heroes. They aren’t going to just save themselves, they are gearing up to save the world. They are on their way to becoming the makers of a positive difference. 

(Pic: Ruby Jagrut)




Enabled by technology and their support in each other, women today are changing the story.

TECHNOLOGY AS THE ENABLER
Technology is a germinating a new revolution. It is enabling Indian women to leap-frog from these barriers to create a new prosperous world. 90% of Indian women believe that technology has given them a voice. Today with technology, she is connected to a community, a country and the world which is empowering her against patriarchy and judgment.
Whether it is entrepreneurs like Richa Kar (founder of Zivame) who changed lingerie shopping or platforms like stayuncle.com (They help unmarried couples find rooms in cities without being harassed) which is enabling them to find a place to explore their relationship freedom ~ technology is emerging as their backer.

THE SISTERHOOD OF REVOLUTION
The second wave of support is coming from other women. 93% believe that it is important for women to help other women advance in their careers and in the workplace.



Platforms like women on wanderlust are enabling women to travel. Kangana Ranaut’s fight for equal pay has found support amongst emerging celebrities. It’s a small start but strong nevertheless.

THE IMPACT ON COMMUNICATION
Women are the largest emerging market in the world. It’s the ‘Dow Jane effect’: The greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success. Empowering women in India would add $700 billion of additional GDP by 2025, upping the country’s annual GDP growth by 1.4% (Source: McKinsey). Over the next decade, women will wield enormous influence over politics, sport, business, and society.
THEY ARE RE-DEFINING SUCCESS: For them success means redefining what society and success should look like beyond what has been prescribed. 


FEELING THEIR OWN POWER: 74% Indian women feel it’s never been a better time to be a woman. 92% of women think femininity is a strength not a weakness. 93% claim that they are working to improve the community/world around them. We live in a world where India’s Cabinet Committee on Security has two women out of four members (Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman).
ESTABLISHING EQUALITY: Whether it is in rules that apply or in terms of opportunities.
The aspiration is for a more enlightened, progressive world of tomorrow from a conservative, restrictive one. As they unshackle themselves, they will give us the opportunity to lead a more fulfilling life. Isn’t it then time for us to expand the role and ambition of women in communication? As marketers and advertisers, it is in our interest to inspire, hasten and enable this shift of utmost significance. 
(Co-authored by Shweta Khosla- VP & Strategy Planning Director, JWT Delhi)


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