India has evolved since independence and so has the new Indian woman. Tracing, celebrating and to remove the roadblock to the evolution of this woman, Zee TV and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organised a seminar in Mumbai on ‘The New Indian Woman’. The seminar was sponsored by Hindi GEC, Zee TV which has created a revolution in entertainment broadcast technology with its content, and mirrored the common man’s life, aspirations and dreams in sync with its brand positioning ‘Umeed Se Saje Zindagi’. In its twentieth year, it stands tall as a leading player in and shares a very strong emotional bond with its viewers.
A series of topics were discussed at the Conference by eminent woman achievers like ‘She dons the professional hat’; ‘She excels’; ‘The power of images in media’; ‘She steps forward’ & ‘She fights for her rights – Women Reservation Bill’. An day of thought provoking sessions had women achievers from different fields like Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Nandita Das, Barkha Dutt, Apurva Purohit, Anjum Chopra, Nidhi Razdhan, Zoya Hassan, Zoya Akhtar, Chetna Sinha, Babai Sathe, Shohini Ghosh, Lynn De Souza, Dr Nandita Gandhi, Dr Shilpa Phadke, Dr Anita Ghai, Kanchan Panmani, Ms Lakshmi, Shobhana Kumar, Nirmala Sitaraman, Menaka Guruswamy, Madhu Kishwar, Ranjana Kumari along with poet, writer, lyricist Javed Akhtar, Deputy Managing Editor – Mint. Mr Tamal Bandyopandhyay and Member of Parliament, Jay Panda.
Actor Ms Shabana Azmi, Co- Chair, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment, said, “The new Indian woman has arrived and she is here to stay. She has found a voice and is speaking out. She is asking for her place in the sun without fear and at all levels. This new Indian women deserves more strength and needs to be supported. When this is done, the new Indian man will emerge and together the two will transform society. They will change notions of power so that power does not remain about oppressing the powerless but of sharing power and partnerships. The true measure of a country’s progress is not just its GDP, but its human development index where empowerment of women is an important constituent.”
Mr Amit Khanna , Chairman, CII National Committee on Media & Entertainment & Chairman, Reliance Entertainment expressed his regret that while much has changed since Independence, much more still needs to be done. “What saddens me is that after so many years of progressive thought and some affirmative action within the many India’s that coexist in our nation, there’s still a lot more to do. Out of the extremely poor in the world, 70% are women. 50% of all women and 60% in South Asia are illiterate. Hence to me, the greatest problem is gender bias which takes root at the beginning of gender identity formation. This bias is so deeply ingrained in our DNA that at superficial levels there might be symbolic changes, but a lot needs to be done on ground. If we need to feel proud as a human race, it has to start with the way we treat and honour our women who hold 50% of the sky with us.”
In a lively discussion titled, ‘She excels’ between Shabana Azmi and Barkha Dutt both reiterated that their view of the world is informed first by their identity as women. After Shabana Azmi said that she was surrounded by feminist including her father, father-in-law and husband, she also reiterated that the New Indian woman can’t emerge or exist without the New Indian Man and together they can make a modern, progressive society. When asked if he was a feminist, Javed Akhtar said, “Society should be just and fair and people should get equal respect without regard for their caste, gender or religion. If that makes a feminist, then I guess I am one.”
Ms. Munizae Jahangir, Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker gave a Pakistani perspective to the position of women. She said, “A lot of change has happened but we have not had the chance to understand the change. In Pakistan, things are changing quietly and a silent revolution has been brewing.”
Director Kiran Rao said that professionalism has helped women in cinema. “When I began work in this industry 14 years back, it was a far cry from wishing to be able to make a film, I didn’t know whether I could be on a set. There has been a sea change since then in the film industry and today women are practically in every space from the studio floor to post production.” She added, “Women are attracted to spaces that are professional and safe and where they would be judged not as a woman, but by their skills.”
Actor and director Nandita Das felt that the change is really slow saying, “The cinema where I find less hierarchy and more democratic space as a woman is regional cinema. When I started doing regional cinema, at some level the journey was somehow different. The kind of stories and women characters they have are far more layered and nuanced. There were more complex images of women.”
Amongst other points raised included Madhu Kishwar asking ‘Why is it that women are asking for Reservations only in the field of politics and not in any other career?’; Or other speakers emphasised that ‘Providing institutional support to a woman to balance home and work at the birth of a child is important and how that will get loyal long term employees and don’t men also deserve to be allowed some time off from work to bond with a newborn?’ Apurva Purohit’s insights included, “Women should get out of victim mentality!”;”It’s time we took ownership of our success and say I do well because of Me!”; “Leave the guilt trip of managing home and work behind!” & “Stop being tentative!”…. Anjum Chopra quoted her dad saying, “Prioritise your priorities!” while Javed Akhtar ended the conference asking “Why is that there are successful women in every field except politics? Is that their failure or the failure of the system?”…
As the Principal Sponsor, Zee TV is a strong reflection of India’s changing story which includes ‘The New Indian Woman’. The channel’s content highlights ‘Umeed’ through its lead protagonists, is progressive and signals a new world filled with new hopes… It is steadfast in its commitment in always showing content that is suitable for the entire family and that will always remain the core DNA of the brand. With its longstanding heritage and strong connect, Zee TV shows like Saat Phere, Betiyaan, Kasam Se, Jhansi ki Rani, Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya hi Kijo … caught the pulse of the changing ethos rooted in socio-cultural issues. Present day shows such as Pavitra Rishta, Dance India Dance, Afsar Bitiya, Hitler Didi, Punarvivaah and Phir Subah Hogi champion an emerging value of Umeed. Popular Zee TV characters like Archana from Pavitra Rishta, Radhika from Choti Bahu, Krishna from Afsar Bitiya, Indira from Hitler Didi, Aarti from Punarvivaah are role models, beacons of societal change and hope on Indian television.