Gender equality is an issue that concerns both women and men. Achieving equality will involve working together to bring about changes in attitudes and behaviour at home, in the workplace, and in the community.
In India, although progress has been made in improving the status of women, cases of sexual violence against women as well as instances of child, early, and forced marriage (CEFM) remain prevalent throughout the country. Promoting gender equality in India is the key to unlocking the full potential of women and girls in society.
As part of Canada’s ongoing efforts for girl child empowerment, the Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai partnered with the National Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity to encourage positive images of women and girls in India. The award recognizes and celebrates the efforts of those who are helping to bridge the gender gap in India through advertising and media.
The Laadli Awards were launched in 2007 by Population First, an NGO based in Mumbai, with long-term support from the United Nations Population Fund. The awards are a part of Population First’s media advocacy efforts under the Laadli - A Girl Child Campaign. The objective of the campaign is to make the term Laadli, which means “sweetheart” or “cherished daughter” in Hindi, synonymous with women empowerment and the celebration of womanhood.
This year, in the sixth edition of the national awards, close to 1300 entries were received in 13 different languages. With an audience of approximately 700 officials, members of the media, advertisers and activists, the award ceremony served as an important opportunity to underscore the value of women’s participation in India.
Awardees included journalist Danish Raza from the Hindustan Times for his story “Cheaper than Cattle,” which covered the lives of “molki” (“one who has a price” in Hindi) women trafficked for marriage. Dainik Vajpal was awarded for running a campaign that addressed acid attacks against women in advance of a Supreme Court decision on the banning of acid sales.
Many other members of the media such were also recognized for stories that address sexual violence, women’s health, women’s right to employment and to financial inclusion. Chief Minister of Maharashtra state in India, Devendra Fadnavis, presented the “Laadli Voice of the Century” award to the legendary Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshakar, whose career spans seven decades with 30,000 songs in 36 Indian languages.
During the award ceremony, Canadian Consul General in Mumbai Richard Bale emphasized Canada’s commitment to addressing issues related to CEFM; maternal, newborn and child care; and sexual and gender based violence.
Canada was proud to support the Laadli Awards through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and will continue to support initiatives that empower women in India and around the world. Working together to empower women is central to achieving global gender equality.