#ProgressiveWoman: Enlightenment & not mere acknowledgement is what women want

The country’s first ever Twitter Panel conducted yesterday (March 6, 2019), which has been organised by Adgully, brought together some leader women leaders in the advertising industry. The Panel discussion turned the spotlight on ‘who actually is a progressive woman in today’s world’. 

The one-hour long panel discussion saw the scope expand much beyond the initial theme and encompassed several important topics such as male-bashing, whether just one day dedicated to women is too limiting, how women sometimes could be the biggest adversaries of women and much more. 

Our esteemed panel, moderated by Anindita Sarkar, Head of Communications, Dentsu Aegis Network India, included:

Neeti Nayak, Director of Communications, Publicis Groupe India

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta, Director - Integrated Communications, IPG Mediabrands

Priyanka Mehra, Director - Marketing and Communications, Havas Group India

Arushi G Phillips, Sr Manager - Corporate Communications, FCB Ulka 

Excerpts from the discussions: 

Who is a progressive woman? 

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta: A progressive woman is defined as someone who favours or advocates changes, improvement and reform. But I believe a progressive woman is someone who can implement all of this in her own life & can create her own identity despite being a daughter, a wife or a mother. 

Arushi G Phillips: Progressive as a term is very subjective. But when you define ‘progressive’, I would like to cite progressive industry campaigns like @Horlicks #Songsofstrength which were released yesterday. I would like to mention #SindoorKhela for @TOI

To me, feminism is not progressive. We are not fighting for an acknowledgement but we are asking for enlightenment and change in perception of strength which is not just symbolic for men. Progressive stands for #equalrights and not OTT feminism agenda. 

Neeti Nayak: To me, a progressive woman is one who is committed to authentic equality and justice for both men and women. Feminism, used to be about gender equality too, unfortunately today it has become to mean something else, it feels a lot more like misandry. 

Priyanka Mehra: Firstly, a person who believes in feminism is one who tries to achieve change that helps women to get equal opportunities and treatment: This is one of the most misunderstood terms and abused words today. A progressive woman to me is one who, irrespective of her environment, acts as a transformation agent. Feminism is trying to achieve change that helps women to get equal opportunities and treatment, important thing here is ‘equal’.

Is it really a man’s world? 

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta: I grew up in an extremely orthodox family. During my formative years, my mom only told me one thing. That unless I am financially independent she will not let me get married. She was a housewife herself, but taught me the difference between a job & a career. She’s a #ProgressiveWoman

Secondly, I am really inspired by the women leaders in my organisation. They are undoubtedly talented. But they have worked really hard in creating their own identity, be it at the workplace or at home and hence, I feel they are so successful. It’s not a man’s world but it’s a male-dominated world. Be your authentic self if you want to find your voice in this male-dominated world. But I also want to add that there is a fine line between being authentic and being a rebel. A number of women adopt characteristics or habits just to fit in – traits that don’t come naturally to them. 

I have never done anything which doesn’t come naturally to me. And I think everyone, especially men, respect me for that. Look at @IPGMBIndia is India’s only advertising network with 50% women representation in its executive council. 2 of its main agencies are led by women. It’s a huge feat! 

Priyanka Mehra: To me, the Tanishq remarriage campaign is a great example of progressive #IWD2019, #WomensDay, #ProgressiveWoman A progressive woman works towards her goals and reaches where she wants, in any world. If you do look around, you will find positive role models in the form of women leaders who have made it. 

Arushi G Phillips: I rather find them #regressive, where a woman is still seeking consent of the man to include the kid in pheras. But I would also say it is also about #beingBrave and taking a stand on things. And absolutely not being a rebel. 

Firstly, I don’t agree it’s a man’s world. I would rather say it’s an ‘ideas’ world, where content/ idea is the king. We remember great content, in very rare occasions do we like work/ campaigns by the people who made it. And in my opinion, women stand at par with men. But on the flipside, I really want to see more women in top leadership roles in the industry. As of now, Swati Bhattacharya is the only woman CCO in India! We really need to up the ante!

Neeti Nayak: A progressive woman doesn’t believe in the concept of a “man’s world” or a “woman’s world”, I think we’re all born with this undying winning spirit, and it depends on how much one is willing to sacrifice and endure to achieve one’s goals. That’s what truly matters. 

In a world of equals, is a specially designated day to celebrate women necessary? 

Priyanka Mehra: While there has been progress to protect and promote women’s rights in recent times, this day also serves as a reminder of the volume of work to be done for equal rights. Having said that every day is #WomensDay. 

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta: We must celebrate womanhood every day. Simply look at @anandmahindra’s tweet. That’s a stark reality. We juggle so many roles and do it with utmost honesty and integrity. I think it men will take another 100 years to reach our level of multi-tasking. 

Arushi G Phillips: In my opinion, we don’t need a designated day to celebrate ourselves. But this day is needed for certain people in the society, on changing how people in general perceive strength. To me, personally, the day in particular has lesser relevance, but is more in the case of bringing along a ‘mindlift’ similar to what’s known as a ‘facelift’. 

Neeti Nayak: That’s the problem. We “intend” to live in a world of equals. But intent isn’t enough. It’s quite clear that the world is not equal, but having an intent is not going to solve the issue. We need to start acting on this to make a difference. Hopefully, in the near future we won’t have a special day just for women, because we’ll actually be living in a more equal world. But to reach that phase, it’s important that we keep these conversations alive, and talk about our problems.

Does man-bashing equate to woman empowerment? 

Arushi G Phillips: The moment we try and take a dig at men with male-bashing, we are somewhere acknowledging we are the weaker sex! Thus, male-bashing will never lead or equate to empowerment. We did something for the niche segment of the society with our campaign #SindoorKhela. By completing the circle of sisterhood and making all-divorcees, transgenders & single mothers to attend the 400-year celebration, which was otherwise restricted to only married women. I believe the introduction of the law, where women are responsible for parents is #progressive than B’world examples. Though it shouldn’t have the need for government approval. And no matter who you are, housemaid or CEO, if you feel independent then #yougogirl! 

Neeti Nayak: I think man-bashing was a means to empowerment in the earlier days. But today, misandry of any kind is just not the answer. It’s not going to work. We cannot resort to man-bashing to solve our problems of gender inequality. It must never be equated to woman empowerment. Man-bashing, I think, is a very weak excuse and we are stronger than that. I think women should take this opportunity to lead the way towards true change, and fighting the right fight, and doing away with misandry. 

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta: Absolutely not! I will go back to one of my earlier replies. There is a fine line between authentic women and rebels. But many seem to believe that man-bashing is the symbol of today’s feminist movement. 

Priyanka Mehra: How does bashing any individual leading to the concept of being empowered? If man-bashing is giving anyone a sense of empowerment, their notion of empowerment needs to be revisited.

In a world of ‘Saas, Bahu and Saazish’, do you think that a woman is as much responsible to bring another woman down? 

Pritha Mitra Dasgupta: Mass media plays a crucial role in influencing communities. So, it’s not the women who should be blamed. I think the content is extremely regressive, which is propagating these things.

Neeti Nayak: Yes, absolutely! We’re living in a dog-eat-dog world. It’s not just women bringing other women down, but women bringing men down too, and vice-versa. The problem with these serials is that they’re stuck in the past. The audience has moved on from these inane jealousy and rivalry plots. Progressive women today face a lot more than just those issues. It’s time to start talking about those stories. Use the medium to make the change. It’s the most powerful after all. 

Arushi G Phillips: Women in advertising are very supportive and progressive. We take pride in good industry work and promote women across agencies. When Swati Bhattacharya was made the @Cannes #SIBI ambassador from India, she received so much love from women across agencies. When she makes us proud at National & International forums, we all feel proud! During #metoo, all women leaders in advertising came together and formed a panel to address issues in the industry. And this is the spirit I see in the agency culture around me. We are way beyond the drama and are united in a stronger bond that is #sisterhood

Priyanka Mehra: I think this is where education , awareness as well as the right kind of content play a pivotal role. But what I see around me, within the industry, is women are increasingly realising that the only way to progress is supporting each other. 

Do log on to @adgully for today’s Twitter Panel at 3 pm.


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