Brands and celebrating women
March 8 is a good day to be a woman. Bakeries give away cake to every female customer, retailers have day-long discounts, restaurants surprise us with complimentary drinks and even red roses. The International Womenâ€™s Day that just went by, was no different. It encouraged me to stand up for my rights, be empowered, win hearts and minds, and then be rewarded with a free massage.
International Womenâ€™s Day is a celebration of how far women have come in their fight for equality, recognition and respect in comparison with men. There was a time when the world needed to be told that we matter. However, in an urban context, as women break the glass ceiling and voice strong opinions about dowry, marriage and babies, the need for this recognition is perceived to be lesser. And that is why, brands around us, have turned this into yet another Pied Piper kind of situation, attracting women with attractive prices.
Donâ€™t get me wrong, I donâ€™t mind the discounts. And I know no one else does. What amazes me is the way they supposedly stand for a bigger cause. â€˜Celebrating womanhoodâ€™, â€˜embrace the power of womenâ€™, â€˜girl powerâ€™. From Jet Airways to Marks and Spencer, they all did it. Because letâ€™s face it, who doesnâ€™t want to be made to feel special, man or woman? And so we donâ€™t ask how a free ice-cream empowers anyone.
What if brands didnâ€™t use these phrases? We know there will be offers and attractive deals, because International Womenâ€™s Day is apparently no different from a Diwali or End of Monsoon sale. What if the discounts were given, without all the surrounding hoopla? Just â€˜10% off for all women today!â€™, without praising my big heart, pure soul and empowered mind? Doable, right?
Or even better, what if these same brands got out there and actually did something to empower even one woman? Enrolled a girl from the streets in school or campaigned against female foeticide? The possibilities are endless. The truth is, there is a still a long, long while before we should stop celebrating this day. It may be just a day, but it is something.
In the meantime, Iâ€™ll take the free cookie, but letâ€™s admit itâ€™s just a cookie. Letâ€™s not expect it to stand for empowerment and at the same time, letâ€™s not reduce the importance of women down to just that. Weâ€™re worth more than 50% off.