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Category: International, Media

Progressive Girls' Voices Blogger: India's Portrayal of Women in Media

| June 14, 2011

The population of India is constantly growing. Yet the sex ratio is becoming increasingly worse. In the age gap of 0-6, 914 girls per 1,000 boys born. This unfair disproportion makes any change in India a difficult process. With a higher male population, women's voices in the media world are drowned out. It is important for there to be a fair amount of opportunity for both sexes.

Within India, the media covers far fewer women than men. Men in India are given more opportunities to voice their opinions and for that viewpoint to be heard. 20.1% of those responding to the Status of Women Journalists in the Print Media Executive Summary said that they were discriminated against because of their promotion. 45.5% said that they felt this was because of their sex. "Sexual harassment, age discrimination, and whether they were under- or overqualified, were listed as other factors hindering women’s upward mobility in their organizations." With less likely-hood of a promotion and receiving fewer opportunities than their male counterparts, women within the journalism world of India are poorly represented.

The Delhi based Media Advocacy has found that there are many stereotypes in how women are even interviewed compared to men. When a man is being interviewed his dress or marital status are hardly ever mentioned. Yet when women are interviewed, her clothing and relationships are the highlighted points. Even in movies where women seem to have power, they are shown to use this power unwisely and male characters usually fix their mistakes. Studies have reported their findings on female representation in the media, finding that, "issues related to women (equality of status and opportunity) got less than nine percent while sensational stories relating to women which were invariably crime stories got between 52 and 63 percent of items in newspapers."

India's Bollywood is the second largest movie industry in the world, and they are guilty (along with other film production companies) of consistently sexualizing women, and defining them into stereotypical roles. Whether the female actress plays the damsel in distress or the stay at home do-gooder, the role women have in India's film industry are very limited.

It is also a fact that the sexualization of women throughout the world has become more explicit. "The women in Indian media are depicted generally as scrupulous, religiously intolerant, craving only for their own family, politically naïve, socially inevitable and culturally ultra-modern," says one report by Dr. Sanjeev K. Sharma of the depiction of women in Indian media. It has also been reported Dr. Sharma that from a first glance, India's women are very well represented on television. Yet, it is important to notice that these women are usually young and beautiful and constantly changing. They obviously provide face value more than anything else as their performance and understanding for the news or such they are actually delivering is, "shoddy", and Dr. Sharma said.

But this point of view is not held so strongly by some. Although there is evidence to show that women are at a large disadvantage compared to men in the world of Indian business, it is a problem that can only be fixed through perseverance. While developing skills, Latika Shyam makes a good point in stating; "You are what you make of yourself. Take responsibility and be answerable first and foremost to yourself. The industry is more prepared for women moving all the way to the top than it has been ever before. Take advantage of it and go after what you want to do."

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