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BW Businessworld

The Right To Last Rites

In the last few years, advertising has taken the lead in promoting the evolving role of women in the society. From showcasing a homemaker mother in distress over cleaning clothes; to insisting on husbands sharing the load, to showing a professional woman as the husband’s boss at work; we have come a long way

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In the last few years, advertising has taken the lead in promoting the evolving role of women in the society. From showcasing a homemaker mother in distress over cleaning clothes; to insisting on husbands sharing the load, to showing a professional woman as the husband’s boss at work; we have come a long way.

Recently, advertising agency JWT along with Delhi-based NGO Haiyya launched a new campaign on a very sensitive issue — a daughter’s right to perform the last rites of the parents. The ad campaign — a part of the social initiative called #MyDaughterWill, started by the ad agency and the NGO — features real women who the society denied the right to perform the last rites of their parents.

Speaking about the inspiration behind the campaign, Nandita Chalam, senior-vice-president and executive creative director, JWT Mumbai, says, “This campaign addresses a very subtle form of discrimination that exists in Indian society. While it is not loud and open, it stems from the very deep-rooted patriarchal belief that a woman has nothing more to do with her parental home after she gets married. That is why it is important to bring such issues out in the open, discuss and debate them and in the end, to make it as commonplace for a daughter, as it is for a son, to perform the last rites of a parent.”

Aimed at all parents with daughters, the year-long campaign urges parents to add a clause to their Will that says their daughters can perform their last rites.
“The campaign is rooted in the deep sadness felt by women who have cared for their aged parents both physically and financially, but upon the death of the parent were told to let the last rites be performed by a male relative. Haiyya has been championing social change at the grassroot level for some time now. Hence, it is the ideal partner to take the message of this digital campaign to the villages and small towns of India,” says Chalam.

Commenting on the campaign, Tista Sen, national creative director, JWT India, says, “We are committed and stand strongly with all women who have been discriminated against in the matters of final rites. There is a sensitivity we are dealing with and we are mindful of it. We are not courting controversy, but to initiate even the beginning of change we understand there will be opposing views. So any conversation, however unpleasant, is welcome!”