IAA Voice of Change Summit: Experts say the need to break the bias

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International Advertising Association (IAA), India chapter hosted a meeting on Gender Sensitisation In Media, the previous week in Mumbai. The topic of the conference was Gender Portrayal across the creative spectrum from a 30 seconds TVC to a 3 Hour film. The event witnessed a power-packed panel of leading voices of the industry speaking on why it is vital to shatter the bias. 

On the board were Anuradha Sengupta, Journalist; Nitesh Priyadarshi, Vice President CMI – South Asia, Unilever; Deepika Warrier, CMO, Diageo India; Tista Sen, Regional Creative Director, Wunderman Thompson, South Asia.

Initiating the session, Sengupta put the attention on the challenges encountered by women around the world, “In Afghanistan, women are not leaving for school, they are restricted to maybe less than a handful of jobs and they are being dehumanized. In Russia and Ukraine, look at the war that’s playing out there, and guess what’s going on to the women whether they are in Ukraine or escaping the borders. It’s evolving hard to get an abortion in many parts of America today. So there is an attack from all walls across the world on the rights of women. These were hard-fought rights and they are not however anywhere near fully understood look at the setbacks that they are being handled with. So to push the needle in any which way we can is severe and critical.”

Sen conveyed, “If you inquire me if the strategy in advertising is shifting fast enough? Of course not. I mean, there’s an explanation for why we’re sitting here and disputing what we can do or what we can’t. But I tend to be positive. It will be much terrible to sit here and chat about what a mess we’re in. Because of course, women’s rights are being challenged. This is India, there’s a massive cultural shift. But to be brave and extreme and talk about women, requires commitment, wants accountability and a lot of questions and answers. So, I call it idleness somewhere. I call it to create that scarcity of insight and it’s somebody else’s crisis. And a lot of communication currently kind of stumbles into that bracket.”

In completing the session, Dr Vasavada said, “Why are we looking just at advertising? There is something which compels the popular protagonist more available for brands the growth of your entire popular culture, what you discern on television and in films. So, I create reels of sarcastic content on what television today holds. You will understand the power distances that still prevail between men and women in those serials and on screens and ascertained not only by dressing, by trained rules, but also by the fact that there is a hierarchy which is demonstrated. And therefore, I think it is still there and the unhurried needle we’ve been speaking about, that it’s running but slowly, is the fact that today it’s a laid-back strategy.”

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