Advancing gender equality across borders: Mexico-India dialogues

UNESCO New Delhi and the Embassy of Mexico in India jointly hosted the second Mexico-India Dialogue on Women’s rights on the subject of Breaking Gender Stereotypes in the Media.  

The dialogue shed light on gender-based discrimination in the media. The second of its kind, the dialogue is part of a series of conversations that seek to stir up discussions on women’s rights and exchange knowledge between India and Mexico, but also beyond.

The dialogue revolved around the experiences of two prominent figures, namely Angélica Aragón and Nandita Das, in film and television industry, who have managed to advance an agenda of empowerment of women in environments characterized by sexist practices, abuse and perpetuation of gender stereotypes. Cinema and television have been marked by under-representation of women and misrepresentation of gender roles, sexualization, and domestication. Long silenced by the industry’s unspoken norms, today more and more women are raising their voices to dispute pay gaps, the objectification of their bodies and the need to promote gender parity and portrait masculinities in different ways in the visual media.

While discussing the challenges that ensued from her long-standing career in cinema, theatre and television including soap-operas (telenovelas), Angélica Aragón said, “it is imperative to target the new generation of girls, who should be empowered to rehearse the type of character they want to have in the future, for us to truly eradicate gender stereotypes and biases starting from a young age”. Bollywood actor, director, and producer Nandita Das followed by discussing her own set of experiences of working in the cut-throat world of mass media and challenging the status quo. Reflecting on the issue, she stated that “as a very powerful tool for communication, we need to infuse the media with social conscience, for new generations to question inequalities and make the world a better place”.

Media has the power to inform, influence and entertain across borders. In many cases, the media acts as a social mirror and carries with it immense potential for social change. In the context of gender equality, media can be used as a powerful tool to advocate for eliminating gender-based discrimination and violence against women. However, like every other sector of the economy, the media industry is not immune to gender-based violence and gender stereotypes. Unfortunately, in many cases, the visibility given to women in the media is replete with and based on stereotypes. This in turn perpetuates the cycle of gender inequality.

Despite progress achieved, the media continues to be a space that reproduces stereotypes, which makes it ever more important for more women to take up leadershup roles. In the wake of persistent gender based discrimination and gender stereotypes in the media, both Nandita Das and Angélica Aragón have taken up active roles as advocates for gender equality and continue to drive social change in their own right.