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Media can play a critical role in addressing gender stereotypes: Shabana Azmi

23-July-2018
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Media can play a critical role in addressing gender stereotypes: Shabana Azmi

At the unveiling of the 14th edition of BW Businessworld Marketing Whitebook in Mumbai recently, well known Bollywood actors-- Shabana Azmi and Raveena Tandon, spoke about issues related to gender equality and representation of women on the big and small screens, and how creative professionals were breaking stereotypes.

Underlining the critical role that media plays in constructing gender identities, Shabana Azmi spoke about the need to have an inclusive approach which can mitigate the gender gap. Elaborating on this, Azmi said, “We all talk about the world becoming richer because of diversity and inclusion. Any company, any society or any country which celebrates its diversity is the most successful one. So we need to have more women in the workplace. In our country we often say that we worship women like goddesses’, but we don’t want to be treated like goddesses, we don’t want to be put on a pedestal. All we want is to be treated as equals. In this a very important role has to be played by the media, especially TV and cinema, as the images they construct of women, subliminally and otherwise, are creating identities of women and a conscious effort needs to be made in that direction.”

Azmi also added that the notion of masculinity needs to be redefined in order to sensitize youth about gender equality. She also spoke about the work that filmmaker and actor Farhan Akhtar has done around gender sensitivity. “The issue of patriarchy cannot be changed unless you take men as partners and not adversaries. One of the initiatives in this direction is by Farhan Akthar who has started the organization called ‘Men Against Racial Discrimination’ (MARD). They are redefining the notion of masculinity and going to colleges to sensitize youth that the real definition of masculinity is not about muscles, power and six pack abs, but about consideration, gentleness and compassion.”

When asked about the representation of women in popular cultures like cinema, TV and advertising, Raveena Tandon stated that there was a perceptible shift in the representation of women on screen and the mainstream cinema has, to a large extent smashed the stereotype. She said, “Our audiences have become more discerning to understand the complexities and issues that we are dealing with. Also, today’s mainstream cinema does what parallel cinema used to do 15 years ago. The need of the hour for all companies including corporates, is to try to become more inclusive. We have heard enough about patriarchy, but what are we doing about it as women? Somewhere we have to share the blame.”
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Themed ‘#iammarketer: Marketing with Leadership, Inclusion & Technology’, the essential handbook of marketers this year will delve into change agents that are driving growth, and how technology should be viewed in a world where design-led thinking, diversity in approach and the best of tech come together to form the ultimate consumer experience.

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