3 years ago, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Population First launched the Laadli Media Awards for Gender Sensitivity. Their objective is to annually recognize and reward gender just perspectives, stories and analyses by various newsmedia between 1st July of the previous year and 30th June of the current year. Comprising of regional and national awards, they are given in each category including print, internet, audio (radio) and audio-visual (television) media. Apart from this, there are also all India awards for similar efforts in advertising. Importantly, the awards include various vernacular tongues in addition to Urdu, Hindi and English.
National awardee and actor Tara Venugopal inaugurates the ceremony
Theatre veteran P C Ramakrishna receiving the lifetime achievement award
Special guests, organizers and jury
The award winners
Bangalore played host to the 2010-’11 awards ceremony for entries from the four southern states. The function was held at Chowdiah Memorial Hall on 10th December, 2010, namely, international Human Rights Day. In spite of the winter chill, there was good attendance.
To me, the hallmark of the event was the soulful music of young visually challenged women and men from the Puttaraj Gawai Trust for the Disabled based in Banashankari. Started by Deva Reddy, a visually impaired musician and his wife Asha, the organization provides free residential training in vocal and instrumental music, mobility and life skills to visually handicapped girls from eonomically backward families of rural Karnataka. The other highlight of the evening was the presence of Revathi A, a well known transgender activist, poet, writer and performer, as one of the special guests. Incidentally, her moving autobiography, the first by a transsexual in India, The Truth About Me – A Hijra Life Story was released in July 2010. Musician Shyamala Bhave and a trustee of the Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism, Jayashree Ramesh were among the invitees. The jury consisted of senior mediapersons like C G Manjula, deputy editor, Prajavani.
As part of the co-ordinating team of this year’s event, we were glad to encourage independent publications like The Alternative to submit entries for the competition. In addition to mainstream newspapers and television channels, community media such as Radio Active also participated in the programme. While the contestants await the announcement of the national awards we hope that such opportunities motivate them and others to portray gender based themes regularly and fairly.