Much as the Delhi rape case jolted our nation out of its deep slumber, the subsequent legislation enacted to deal with rape in this country has been greatly lauded. What was evident from the revolt was the simmering anger that was pent up in the hearts of the citizens. Revolts such as these can work as short term interim measures, but long term efforts to change the mindsets of the people is the need of the hour. Laadli is one such initiative that is looking to bring about this long term change.
Laadli is a girl child campaign by Population First and was launched in June 2005 to address the problem of falling sex ratio which was highlighted in the Census of 2001. Laadli is Population First’s flagship campaign which works to promote a positive image of the girl child to counter her undervaluing in society and has ‘Celebrate Her Life’ as its tagline. Population First is an NGO working on population and health issues within the framework of women’s rights and social development.
Dr. A L Sharada is the programme director of Population First, who has been working in the development sector for the last 18 years. HerStory caught up with her to understand the Laadli campaign and discuss the upcoming Laadli Media Awards for gender sensitivity.
What does Laadli do?
“Women battle with health issues, infant mortality, malnutrition, anemia and a million other problems through their life. She doesn’t have money, no decision making power, gets married early and so on – one thing leads to the other. It is the case of undermining the importance of women in our society. While the initial change has started to come in, to make further changes, we need to do things at a macro level, and that is what Laadli is attempting to do,” explain Dr Sharada. Laadli has chosen the route of partnership with the media and the community to help improve awareness and increase inclusion of women. As an NGO they realized their reach is limited and therefore decided to join hands with the media who can play the role of a watchdog and comment on things happening too.
As part of the effort, in 2007 Laadli launched the first event which was only focused on Mumbai. Here they handed out media fellowships, conducted media workshops, editors’ meet, workshop for student journalists, script writers’ workshop, workshops in film institute and so on. On the advertising side, they undertook an analysis and research on how ASCII guidelines were being implemented, and sought to work closely with the advertising industry in many ways.
While there is still a lot of ground left to cover, the efforts have already started bearing fruits. From a mere 100 entries in 2008, to 1700 entries this year, Laadli is well on its way to becoming a coveted award to be won for those working in the field of women empowerment and gender issues. “The first year entries were mostly frivolous in nature; people sent entries about how to paint nails, how to keep your husband under control, a jewellery ad, breast cancer ad and so on. There was hardly any understanding of what is gender sensitive writing. But this year all the entries were so good that the jury had a tough time choosing the winner,” says Dr. Sharada.
This year, Laadli received 313 entries from the South, 110 from the East, 582 from the North and 733 entries from the West. The winners from the North and West represent 15 states and six languages. The winners from the South and East represent 19 states and 10 languages.
Thirty jury members were involved in selecting the winners from the North and West and 30 jury members were involved in selecting winners from the South and East. The national jury were 15 members, including a combination of senior journalists like Vishwanath Sachdev, Mrinmayee Ranade, Sidharth Bhatia and Satish Nandgaonkar; advertising stalwarts like KV Sridhar, Lynn De Souza and Monica Tata; and thought leaders and influencers like Nandini Sardesai, Shobhaa De, Monica Wahi and Shishir Joshi among others.
The national winners were felicitated at a glittering ceremony held last evening in Mumbai. Naseeruddin Shah was the chief guest. Following is the list of winners for 2013. Special winners announced during the event were:
Visit the website: Laadli.org