IAA India along with LAADLI and UNFPA hosted a Webinar on Communication in the COVID Era. Will anything change in the Gender Equations?
Punit Goenka, President-IAA India, MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd. set the context for this discussion. “Will anything change in the Gender Equations? The fact that there is a sheer need to address this question even today is a matter of deep concern.
Megha Tata, Vice President- IAA India, MD -South Asia, Discovery said that this was a great time to reflect, relook and realign ourselves in every way. Pandemic has exposed a lot of cracks that exist in our society, not just in health, but in every home, be it the rise in domestic violence, rise in gender equations, and impacting job losses have created huge challenges. #Gender equality issues remain deeply rooted. Closing the gender gap is our collective responsibility.
Here are the key points from the esteemed speakers who believe in the cause and are doing work in an individual capacity and have come together to share their data points.
Anuja Gulati – Consultant, Program Management – UNPFA, with her strong experience at the grassroots level emphasized that the COVID pandemic has not only deepened the pre-existing inequalities in all spheres of caregiving, health, and economic and social protection but also disproportionately impacted women and girls. It is very important to view our communication, stories and narratives through the gender lens. She said as communicators “Women must not be tagged “superwoman” and men doing daily chores must not be trivialized or glorified but be normalized”. Anuja pointed out that the way forward is to bring gender/class/races related issues to the forefront through communication. She summed up saying “You have the power as communicators to change the narrative and in doing so change the way the country thinks about our women and girls”.
Dr. A.L.Sharada, Director, Population First asked the communicators to keep framing your stories within the context of the COVID crisis. She identified a few pegs for communication: Promote positivism. Redefine gender roles by showing more men caring, by showing girls and women in leadership and decision-making positions. Reimagine work places in COVID context. Acknowledge and bring to knowledge new forms of violence and discrimination that may emerge in the new digital world. Be inclusive. We need to achieve a balance between commercial interest and social responsibility.
On content creation, she mentioned that we need to break the dichotomy in what we believe in, what we live and what we communicate.
Avinash Pandey – CEO ABP News Network elaborated on the safety measures taken at the office. ABP News’ the public awareness campaign called ‘#CoronaKoDhona’ highlighting the importance of hand-washing has garnered tremendous traction on the social media pages of the channel.
ABPNews mentioned sharing of heart-wrenching stories where men who have been cured touched the feet of the hospital nurse and thanked her and stories of husbands of healthcare workers looking after children at home. He felt COVID has become a gender equalizer.
Nandini Dias, CEO –Lodestar UM, India has been a champion for multiple causes at an individual capacity and as an integral MARCOM member of IAA. Nandini said “In this cusp of catharsis, how we evolve and navigate the new model of shared responsibilities on the domestic front will propel us either 10 years ahead or drag us 10 years back. Gender equality is suffered by men too. Nandini quoted Emma Watson, the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador “…when men become free, things will change for women as a natural consequence”. Change in mindset is the equalizer.
Ashish Bhasin, CEO-APAC & Chairman India, Dentsu Aegis Network – We have a good proportion of #women representation but we can do more. DAN India was the first to form the DAN Women’s Council. We need equity to have equality. COVID has accelerated certain trends - Digitalization, WFH
Nirupama Subramanian, Resident Editor-Indian Express, Mumbai expressed the need was to focus on - How to increase participation of #women in the developing #economy? She shared her experiences where women in self-help groups through their skills play a key role in the economy. She emphasized the need to have pro-active women-centric policies and push for jobs that have more women force.
Aparna Acharekar, Programming Head- Zee5, said ‘Responsible content creators like we need to over-index on representing women characters in far brighter light than any of our earlier attempts’. We need to tell more stories of women from all quarters of life whose contribution to home and society will shape how we will in the post COVID era. Gender equations can only tally when both genders regard each other as individuals. Content must reflect the person as a good human – not a good woman or man
We had a glimpse of the story of Reshma Pathan, the first stunt woman, who proved that opportunity is all it takes to prove your individuality
Abe Thomas, CEO –Reliance Broadcast Network pointed out some key covid insights
1. Women have a skewed understanding of productivity
2.Women waiting to get out and reconnect
3. Care work, taking care of adults, infants and dependents is still to be done by women
4. Covid will derail careers and dry up opportunities
Abe Thomas shares some action points the media house commits to
Breaking stereotypical representation of women in communication
Incentivize brands promoting gender equality and women empowerment
Encourage women to re-enter the workforce
Drive inclusivity as a part of organization culture to empower women