Verizon Media, home to media brands like Yahoo and HuffPost India, launched the iconic global digital and video storytelling brand MAKERS in India with the aim of accelerating the women’s movement in the country.
“With the launch of MAKERS India, we are proud to accelerate the women's movement in India. It is upon all of us to take the pledge and accelerate the movement," said Guru Gowrappan, EVP & Group CEO, Verizon Media.
In a strategic partnership with YourStory, Verizon Media launched MAKERSIndia with the mission to create an inclusive and empowered community of women in India by telling the real-life stories and experiences of women changemakers and trailblazers. The official reveal of the website -- in.makers.com -- was conducted on October 4, Friday, in New Delhi.
“We as women should feel good about ourselves, our own journey, and our achievements. We need to recognise how extraordinary we are and how we have been able to inspire others to be the same,” Shradha Sharma said, as she kick-started the inaugural event with the introduction of the MAKERSIndia #OurTimeIsNow campaign, urging people across the country to collectively raise their voices, both online and offline, and commit to accelerating the women’s movement in India.
In a panel with YourStory’s Shradha Sharma, Verizon Media senior executives Rose Tsou, Head of International, Verizon Media; Rico Chan, Co-head - APAC, Verizon Media; and Nikhil Rungta, Country Manager, India, Verizon Media, also spelt out the significance of the MAKERSIndia brand, with each of the executives taking their personal pledge to amplify the voices of women in the country.
“Building an inclusive and safe environment and supporting women employees when they really need will help in having them bring their whole self to work,” said Rose Tsou, adding that this will enable women to realise their full potential.
“Especially, as women, we have a lot of personal responsibilities: as a daughter, a mother, and a professional. I have seen many women whose careers did not advance because of these personal commitments,” she said.
During the discussion, Rico Chan pledged to ensure pay parity and help women have equal opportunity for career advancement and development.
Pledge for equality
Speaking in a separate panel with Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of National Commission for Women and Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC TV18, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO, Paytm, pledged that he will create 100 million bank accounts for the unbanked women in India.
“As an economy, we won't grow if we treat every woman by default as a homemaker, especially if their constructive inputs are not taken into consideration,” Vijay Shekhar Sharma said, emphasising the need to ensure gender equality in the workplace and outside.
Adding to the conversation on women’s issues at workplaces, NCW’s Rekha said the commission does not want to be a complaint redressal system, but a system to empower women so that there are no complaints.
She detailed the many ways the NCW is helping women to have financial independence, and conducting programmes on entrepreneurship for women and encouraging skill development.
In a candid chat with YourStory Senior Editor Ramarko Sengupta, actor Radhika Apte, who was recently nominated in the best actress category for 2019 International Emmy Awards, asserted that stories need to be told without compromise.
“Whether we like it or not, Bollywood influences a lot of people in our country. Hence, they need to represent something that we want our society to be like. I will take a pledge to fight my fears and not succumb to it,” she said.
The next panel discussion was with India’s fastest woman - Dutee Chand, along with acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, and Chhaya Sharma, Deputy Inspector General of the National Human Rights Commission, who was in-charge of the infamous Nirbhaya case in 2012.
Speaking about the judicial system, society, and redressal regarding crime against women, Chhaya Sharma said, "We need to make the policy more sensitive towards women and professionals so that the work ethics and deliverable by the offices get improved."
The inaugural ceremony ended with a speech by transgender rights activist Akkai Padmashali, who highlighted that womanhood is beyond biology. She said that the feminist movement is a sexist and classist movement if it does not include transwomen, especially those from economically backwards, non-English speaking populations.
Speaking at length about the plight of transgender community, and the impact of Section 377, she elaborated the need for more inclusivity among women too. She urged to recognise an individual as a woman as per the individual’s wishes, rather than follow the biological definitions.
Hopeful for a better future
The launch of MAKERS India comes at a pivotal moment in the women’s movement in India, championing issues like gender equality and inclusivity in the workplace. Through visual storytelling, podcasts, live events, documentaries, and award-winning digital content, MAKERS India will lead conversations that nurture an inclusive, empowered community of women in the country.
The platform will create new avenues for women to come together as a community. It will also offer brands the opportunity to engage meaningfully with women audience in India through relevant, interactive forums and events, and on themes that matter to women here.