Verizon Media’s MAKERS, a digital and video storytelling platform, that has accelerated the women’s movement in the US, is finally here in India.
As it expands its footprint, MAKERS India has entered into a strategic partnership with YourStory to help connect the MAKERS India community with women changemakers - both online and on the ground.
Launching the platform in New Delhi, Shradha Sharma, Founder & CEO, YourStory, said, “magic happens when we tell real, authentic, natural, and imperfect stories and stories of women who might not be picture-perfect, but they are one of us”.
“We as women should feel good about ourselves, our own journey, and our achievements. We need to recognise how extraordinary we are and how we have been able to inspire others to be the same,” she added.
The inaugural event also launched the campaign #OurTimeIsNow. MAKERS India will power this campaign that urges Indians to take a stand and collectively raise their voices, both online and offline, to accelerate the women’s movement in India. #OurTimeIsNow will amplify the voices of women breaking down cultural and societal barriers. It will give a powerful voice to women who have till now gone unheard of or not had the opportunity to make bolder choices.
“With the launch of MAKERS India, we are proud to accelerate the women's movement in India. It is upon all of us to take the pledge and accelerate the movement," said Guru Gowrappan, EVP & Group CEO, Verizon Media, over a video message.
The inaugural event kick-started with a fireside chat by Shradha Sharma with a panel including Rose Tsou, Head of international, Verizon Media; Rico Chan, Co-head - APAC, Verizon Media; and Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India, Verizon Media. Verizon Media is home to widely-used consumer brands like Yahoo Cricket, Yahoo Mail, HuffPost India, and now MAKERS India.
Speaking during the discussion, Rico said that he pledges to bring pay parity in his organisation, and help women to have equal opportunity for career advancement and development. Rose said that at this moment, she wants to ensure that we should become a source of inspiration and support and provide mentorship to women.
The panel discussion was followed by a candid conversation with International Emmy nominated actor Radhika Apte, where she asserted that stories need to be told without compromise.
“Whether we like it or not, Bollywood influences a lot of people in our country. Hence, they need to represent something that we want our society to be like,” she said. Taking a pledge at the conference, she said, "I will take a pledge to fight my fears and not succumb to it".
Another panel discussed the state of women in India. The panel included Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women; Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO, Paytm; Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC TV18, and was moderated by YourStory's Shradha Sharma.
During the panel discussion, Vijay Shekhar Sharma said that he will create 100 million bank accounts for the unbanked women in India. He also said that as an economy, we won't grow if we treat every woman by default as a homemaker, especially if their constructive inputs are not taken into consideration.
National Commission for Women (NCW)’s Rekha said the commission does not want to be a complaint redressal system, but a system to empower women so that there are no complaints. She said there are many ways the NCW is helping women to have financial independence, and are conducting programmes on entrepreneurship for women; helping them start businesses, and encouraging skill development.
The next panel discussion was with India’s fastest woman - Dutee Chand, along with acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, and Chayya Sharma, Deputy IG, NHRC, and the woman who was in-charge of Nirbhaya case.
In a candid chat, Dutee said that she had never considered anyone as her role model, but it's amazing to see others consider me as their role model.” She also said sports has changed her life in a big way.
“We can now afford a house, education for my siblings, and also I now have a job. I think I have fulfilled every dream of mine which I had as a kid," said Dutee.
Pouring her heart out, Laxmi narrated the story of how it has been a long journey for her - from being a victim of acid attack to being a survivor. She said that it was her father who once told her that she doesn't have to look anywhere for strength. “Your family is there to always support you and stand by you. My strength will always be with me in these words by my father,” she said.
Speaking about the judicial system, society, and redressal regarding crime against women, Chhaya Sharma said, "We need to make the policy more sensitive towards women and professionals so that the work ethics and deliverable by the offices get improved."
MAKERS India launch comes at a pivotal moment in the women’s movement in India, championing issues like gender equality and inclusivity in the workplace. Through visual storytelling, podcasts, live events, documentaries, and award-winning digital content, MAKERS India will lead conversations that nurture an inclusive, empowered community of women in the country.
The platform will create new avenues for women to come together as a community. It will also offer brands the opportunity to engage meaningfully with women audience in India through relevant, interactive forums and events, and on themes that matter to women here.
The inaugural ceremony ended with a speech by transgender rights activist Akkai Padmashalli, who highlighted that a woman is beyond her biological entity. Being a woman is about expressing herself, it's about accepting your gender what you are feeling to.
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