The second day of the event on 16th January 2019, began with the 3rd technical seminar of the four seminars on Gender Parity: Issues and Challanges, titled “Barriers of Entry for Women in State and National Politics” which was to be a seminar conducted by Dr. Gilles Verniers, yet due to some problems the Doctor had to cancel and the day started with the fourth Technical seminar, titled “Media from Women’s Perspective” chaired by Ms. Pamela Philipose and Ms. Navika Kumar.
The first speaker was Ms. Kumar, who is the Managing Editor, Politics at TIMES NOW. A post graduate in economics, she has equal command in covering economics as well as political issues. She initiated her talk with asking a simple question, “Are we seeing enough gender parity in jobs?.” She talked about how there are more women in reporting but not in editing or other technical jobs in the media field. There is scope for gender parity and the glass ceiling that had been holding women back has begun to crack, but the final push needed to break it is still missing. She continued to give the example of the parliament, the apex institution, which is the core of empowering, hasn’t empowered women, talks of 33% reservation for women seem futile and unachievable. On a better note however gender parity in the classroom has become better, the HR ministry research has shown that in higher education women are taking bigger strides and it is men who are falling behind. She invoked and praised the new woman of India, who doesn’t hold back. She also however criticised the research nos. as skewed because they only look at women in urban centres where as the majority of population and women are still in rural areas where change Is yet to come. She finally ended with an example of a problem that she herself had to go through, of women having to prove themselves after coming back from maternity leaves or women having to prove themselves to be as good as any other male anchor and raising the voice that men and companies need to help women going through childbirth not make life harder and provide necessary benefits.
The second speaker was Ms Philipose, she is one of the most respected names in Indian Journalism at present, working as an Editor at the Indian Express. She started her talk with a personal experience about the condition and need for proper washrooms in all organisations for women. In India there is a 4-1 ratio of male is to female in the media field jobs. This changes how news forms. The people in power in India decide what is news and hence there should be an equal representation and parity. Not just women but other people from disadvantaged people like dalits and tribals etc. Who are outside of this sphere. She urged us to ask ourselves “Whose voice is being representated?” Some powerful people controlling the narrative and some powerless people who are being ignored. She then moved on to detail some stats that being, difference between women media personnel in urban (50-50) and district areas (2.5% women only). She then further discussed the issue that Ms. Kumar had discussed that of women should be entitled to some benefits like maternity ones. She told us about the first question that she was asked when she went for a job interview in the 80’s “You just got married will you be having children?” A company will have to invest more in women if they need maternity needs and benefits. It’s slightly better now as men are also slowly and slowly partaking in child rearing and care as well. Management cutting down on security and benefits increases the risks on women she said, to prove this point she gave examples of the Indian TV journalist who was shot when going back home at night 2 o clock, a Mumbai photo journalist subjected to gang rape by a large media house. When women speak out, they cross a red line. Gauri Lankesh was killed because she spoke out and expressed her views. Rina Pongum was shot because she dared to write about mining contracts in North East. Raksha Kumar reporting from bastar would always be asked that as a woman does she know anything? she doesn’t even know how to carry a gun how can she report from a conflict zone. Most common form of abuse is abuse of authority and most of these oppressors are male.
She talked about a silent pact between different media house heads that they don’t show oppression in each other’s organisations aren’t shown, and that’s how these oppressions are invisibalised. She took a moment to commend the “Me too” movement that became a milestone in taking the fight back and gender parity. Social media became a tool to help women speak out while being anonymous as well. She also told the audience about the magazine from Bundelkhund ‘Khabr Lahriya’ talking about women oppressions and storied etc. Government had to act. Mainstream media is having to catch up with social media. Smartphones have become empowering to those who are oppressed. She also lay down a slight warning about data as the new oil, which will fuel the next wave if information revolution that is Artificial Intelligence. She finally addressed the issue of the sticky floor that holds the women back from even reaching the glass ceiling let alone breaking it. She ended on a high note however by saying that “Women have also shown that they can negotiate in the public space understanding the risks and building partnerships.”
At around 2 o’clock for the Jijabai award ceremony, awards were presented by the principal Dr. Shashi Nijhawan to men and women who are working to improve the ground condition of women and empowering others around them. This year’s winners were:
1. Dr. Shyam Sundar Paliwal
2. Vidya Nambirajan
3. Sister Annie Jeasus
4. Lakshmi Menon
5. Dr. Manish Gupte
After the awardees were presented with their awards, the day finally came to an end with a ghazal performance by Dr. Radhika Chopra, who lit the whole hall with radiance and lightened the mood and the ambience with her amazing and melodic performance. This marked the end of the 10th annual Jijabai award ceremony, who promised to return next year to recognise more people who are working to make this country and its women move forward.
Feature Image Credits: Shivaji College