For the longest time, women have been fighting for representation in different fields and have since come a long way, so much so that, there are now websites like She The People and The Ladies Finger, that solely focus on representing sheroes and cover important gender issues. Despite the tedious journey that women have faced, the process continues as we still aren’t seen as equal, when compared to our male counterparts. While the progression towards gender neutrality seems be going at a snail’s pace, women from different fields share their inputs on the challenges they continue to face on this long journey.
No change happens overnight according to Dr. Zulfia Shaikh, the founder of the Bangalore School of Speech and Drama, who feels like we are definitely heading in the right direction. “It takes years to win a war and centuries, for a cultural pattern to change. Things are looking better in urban scenarios as compared to the rural sectors. Not only women, but men too are starting to recognise the capabilities of women in all fields,” says the theatre personality. “In the matter of inequality, it’s not only about paychecks or representation. Women were being made to feel like their voices and opinions didn’t matter. And there has been a shift because of these websites that give women a platform. And there is no going back from his progression, we will only move forward. I also think theatre, is one of the most progressive fields as there is no bias here except for when it comes to maternity leave,” she opines.
Samyukta Hornad, who is currently playing the role of a girl who’s work drives her more than her personal relationships, feels strongly about the matter as well. “The gender neutrality graph is a constantly fluctuating one not only in the film industry but every other one as well. The Sandalwood industry has seen it’s fair share of bold, women centric films as much as the Bollywood industry has. Actors like Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi have paved the way and made a space for themselves as well as other women and it is very commendable because when we are on set and a male actor enters, he has a lot more assistants tending to him and the spotlight is immediately on him,” says the Neene Bari Neene actress. “I think the second we start putting our foot down, and demanding the respect we deserve, things will change at a faster pace.”
Though she thinks we are heading in the right direction, comedienne Sumukhi Suresh believes that inequality lies in the audience. “I get asked why I do women centric shows and my only response to that is, every audience is male centric! Another time, somebody told me I was the funniest female comedian, and I know they meant it in a good way but I want to be the best comedian there is, not just in the female section. Even in terms of comedy, crassy jokes are ok if they come from men, but the second I make one, I’m greeted with silence. Even my mom is not okay with the jokes I make and changing the mindset of the older generation is yet another task we need to focus on, because they come from a different time and it’s going to be harder, understandably,” says the comedienne who reveals that she is also worried for the tier-two cities. “Every other website or article is male-centric so I think the websites are doing a good job of giving women the space they deserve. I think they are targeted or should be target
ed at people who aren’t even aware of their basic rights and don’t have a holistic approach of how things work.”