By Merril Diniz:
“A large section of our society still believes that women should be confined to the house. We believe she can create a better future for everyone when she is not.” This is the premise of a new ad, which raises many questions about a woman’s place in society. This it does, through the story of Afroz Jahan, a woman who was elected as ‘Gram Pradhan’ (village chief), the highest position in Nizampur Malhour, her village in Lucknow. Through Afroz’s leadership, the village has seen considerable change for the better (watch the video to know more on this).
The plot thickens, though, as the film misguidedly drums up an excuse for women to be allowed to venture out of the perimeter of her home. I believe the messaging of the film, somewhat perpetuates the idea that a woman must be “allowed” to be an active participant in public life, so that someone benefits – in this case society – as opposed to doing it purely to embrace all aspects of her personality and potential, and for the self-actualisation of her own aspirations.
The other bewildering aspect is the reference to the oft celebrated expectation that career women must also be excellent homemakers. I am sure some women manage both seamlessly, and hats off to them. But the expectation that all women must pull it off, is a tall order, not to mention, humanly impossible (unless you have domestic help or work yourself to the bone). In a forced attempt at brand-building, yet, another stereotype has been perpetuated, the repercussions of which will be felt far and wide.
Nonetheless, I am still glad the story of Afroz Jahan has been told. It also shows an evolved husband, a social worker, who believes, together, as a team, they can amplify the impact of their social work through her leadership position. But enough about what I think. Do watch the whole ad, and tell us what you think!