The Tata Trusts organised the second edition of its marquee women’s day property, ‘The Force Beyond’, on 12th March 2020 at Taj Santacruz in Mumbai. The inaugural edition last year highlighted the need to focus on women beneficiaries to drive home the fundamental reality that investing in women pays off with undeniable impact towards creating a better world. This year, the theme of the event pivoted on Gender Equality (the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5), is in line with the Trusts’ commitment to drive the same among the communities it serves .
The half-day event that saw over a 100 people in attendance, from corporate CSR, other philanthropies, NGOs, the government and media, was an effort to catalyse the momentum behind gender parity through inspiring stories, compelling discussions as well as an interesting debate on the topic “This is the best time to be a woman”, all intended to spark a conversation that could bring society a step closer to a world that includes women’s full and effective participation.
In his keynote address, Eric Falt, Director and UNESCO Representative in India, opined that it is important that everyone contributes to the cause of gender parity. “We must stand up together against all forms of gender discrimination. Women and men must enjoy equal opportunities, capabilities, power and knowledge as equal citizens. Equipping girls and boys, women and men with values, attitudes and skills to tackle gender equality will be essential to build a sustainable future for all of us,” he added.
The debate, a new format introduced this year, saw participation from renowned activist and academician Dr Ranjana Kumari; celebrated TV Anchor Anand Narasimhan; Chief Creative Officer of FCB Ulka, Swati Bhattacharya; and Navonil Chatterjee, Joint President and Chief Strategy Officer of Rediffusion. While Dr Kumari and Mr Narasimhan spoke against the motion, the advertising duo took a stand for the motion. The audience vote, which was in ‘favour of the motion’ at the start of the debate changed to ‘against the motion’ once the debaters presented their views. This change in perspective was the turning point of the day.
The first panel discussion involved a conversation on whether economic empowerment gives women a voice thus enabling them to become decision makers. “Economic empowerment is not only about equal participation in the economy; it has multiple dimensions and we need to see over and beyond,” said, Nidhi Bansal, Sr. Director, Program Operations, Quality and Learning, CARE, adding that at ground level, many women were not able to stand up against domestic violence due to lack of economic independence.
In the concluding session, a panel comprising eminent panellists such as Anuradha Shankar, Additional Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh; Justice (Retd.) BN Srikrishna; D Sivanandan, former DGP, Maharashtra; and Renu Mishra, Director Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AAL)I , raised concerns about the poor representation of women in the Indian justice system. While there have been attempts to bring about equal representation for women, the experts believe that it’s only when we bring about a change in society’s mindset will we be able to achieve systemic change.
The Force Beyond, which saw the launch of the Tata Trusts Menstrual Hygiene Management programme in its first edition last year, also witnessed a couple of moving stories from the ground of change makers who had broken barriers to remove the taboo on menstruation in tribal Rajasthan. A couple of young women hockey players from rural Assam spoke about their experience of playing a sport that has hitherto been a man’s domain, as a result of their enrolment in the Naval Tata Hockey Academy.
The 2nd edition of The Force Beyond went paperless with no printed event brochure. The audience was requested to download the brochure using a QR code available at the time of registration. An interactive sling shot screen was used to encourage the audience to share their thoughts and views about the event.