Why Do We Need Women in the Room?

On the 19th of December 2018 I saw a picture posted by my fellow actor, Akshay Kumar thanking our Prime Minister for taking the time to hear of issues pertaining to the Hindi film industry. An observation led to a question, “Why were there no women in the room?”

Let me start by clarifying that this question was in no way undermining the intent of the men in that room or their effort to bring about a positive change for our industry. In fact, I acknowledge that the positive change would impact each of us, the men and the women, who work in the Hindi film industry. But I do believe that my question deserved some introspection…

The subsequent meetings of this nature did include women in the conversation and I believe that it made for a wonderful picture, that underlined our strength as one.

Dia Mirza.

As a society we have become so accustomed to seeing only men in most images that define the fate of our present and future that we do not realize what a definitive role the absence of women plays in this narrative. Does this need to change? YES! If we truly want to become an equal society, we NEED equal representation in all spheres.

Only 6 nations have legally guaranteed women equal rights, Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Latvia and Sweden despite the United Nations treaty adopted in 1979, the CEDAW – Convention on the Elimination Of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The United Nations states that 143 out of 195 countries guarantee equality between women and men in their constitutions as of 2014. Yet, discrimination against women persists in many areas, directly and indirectly, through: laws and policies, gender based stereotypes, social norms and practices.

India must continue to work towards gender equality in all spheres of life. Every man and woman needs to think hard about the role they play in doing their bit for this very necessary balance and the images that define our narrative as a people, as a culture, as an economic force, as a country, must include women if we truly hope to achieve human rights and equality.

We may have a long way to go to achieve full equality of rights and opportunities between men and women, but we can start by ensuring we include women in every conversation. So now you tell me, do we need women in the room?

Dia Mirza is an actor, producer, and UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador.

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