Shavon Barua
Mar 9, 2024

Ladies, lip service and the art of being ludicrous

Barua shares her no-holds-barred opinion on how to ensure International Women's Day doesn't get diluted amidst the commercialised marketing blitzkrieg

Ladies, lip service and the art of being ludicrous
Right on the heels of the profuse celebration of love arrives the celebration of women.  International Women’s Day. The way this day has turned into a banal marketing blitz added to the cringe value of these so-called single-day celebrations and eulogies and outpouring of love, lofty fake promises of equality and appreciation, it has really done its bit now. The time is ripe to ask some quick and clear questions, starting with: Why has this day turned into a gimmicky circus?
‘For most of history, anonymous was a woman.’ Virginia Woolfe’s quote holds true even today. (If you don’t know who she was, well, go figure). Yes, the struggle for the rights of women has been on forever for the world at large. Post-Covid perhaps, it has worsened for women, especially in the workforce. Enough reports are there to show how women have been set back by decades—globally.   
Of course, it goes without saying that a very large part of the female population in our country continues to struggle to receive the very basics. Every tiny step taken to improve their life will help, though the Women’s Day celebration are unlikely to be anywhere close to them. But let’s talk about women receiving Women’s Day specials. 
The deluge of celebration articles and posts that hit media, especially social media are saccharine sweet. Almost nauseating is the narrative of men giving the homemaker woman a “break” to organise a meal. Every shade of pink, discounts on Cosmopolitan (yeah, another shade of pink), chocolate and roses perhaps wrapped in pink, and the town halls or cute emails celebrating “women” leaders, and achievers are the usual suspects. It is the to-do list. Tokenism ticked, done and dusted, year on year.       
Another difficult question: What about the other 364 days? It's 2024 for crying out loud. It is beyond logic and comprehension. The questions to ask here are for the small section of women who are trying every single day to be accepted for their efforts to build their spot. 
Okay, ideally Women’s Day should not be a divisive subject when its ideal aim is to achieve equality. It’s not anti-men just because the subject of gender equality gets some spotlight. Simply put, to achieve it, we must elevate women. Some even refer to it as anti-discrimination day, anti-sexism day. This day started in 1909 when the need was to be heard. The need continues even today and not get reduced to some cheesy Fuchsia Fair! 
While it is important to celebrate the economic, cultural, political, and social enhancement of women to keep accelerating on the subject, equality, gender gap, and pay based on meritocracy must be the key focus. Please give those cute (read irritating) forwards a break and try a little to think differently. 
Even today we live in a world that gives men more priority and better opportunities. Women even today are not on the same footing. While many women may feel they feel no discrimination, all one can say is dear girl, may your tribe grow. This day is not about individuals but for women all over, where the inequality is glaring, and the lip service is way too common. If some of us are privileged with equality, if one can use the term loosely, we know how liberating it is. It is upon us to always keep pushing and asking the difficult questions. Of encouraging girls to be unafraid and unapologetic about being successful. 
Ambition and wealth creation are not scheming and gold-digging. It’s simply ambition and wealth creation. We don’t have to be behind the success of any man. We can quite happily be successful on our own, parallelly with a man. Thanks very much.
Last but certainly not least, it is important to highlight that amongst all the workforce the media and advertising business has been on most counts a neutral playing field. But somewhere as the careers grow the women-talent seems to thin down. One has never shied away from talking about the so-called 'boys club' and how challenging it is to be judged merely on merit. 
From ‘wrong days’ to the ‘old hag’, and ‘hot babe’ to ‘shrill shrew’, many labels get slapped on and somehow her multitask-laden life becomes a hindrance to the female co-worker’s growth.  A few brave men in the agency business have perhaps made it their agenda to have women leaders in their team, nurture future leaders not on the basis of their gender and have not only grown their business and group companies, but also their stature. 
Yes, adland needs more such men. Small steps that could help are nurturing talent for only their talent, giving them an equal salary/opportunity/challenge. Trust me, she will shine like she usually does. Multitasking is a life skill for her so she knows how to balance it all.
When will leaders will simply be leaders and their gender not be a prefix? They are quite happy being the boss, you don’t need to add the #bossbabe /#bosslady. You get the drift, right?
Difficult to believe but ladies can do without the lip service and the ludicrous pink persuasions. They have much to do, and they are getting much more done. As Ms M Monroe, (C’mon at least you know who she was) very correctly said ‘I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it’. 

Shavon Barua is an independent brand curator. In her last full-time agency stint, she was chief client officer at PHD India.
Also read: Shavon's blog - Hello boys, do you plan to grow up?


Campaign India

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