Tata Tea’s latest marketing campaign has generated a million e-signatures calling for mandatory gender sensitisation classes in Indian schools – before boys’ negative ideas about women can take root

The scene is an Indian middle-class living room. A young girl tells her mother she is going out to play badminton with her brother. The mother, without looking up from chopping vegetables, says a firm “no” – the boy may go, but the girl has to stay and help her in the kitchen.

It’s a dialogue that can be heard in infinite permutations across millions of Indian homes every day. But this exchange forms part of a TV advert by Tata Tea, a global conglomerate whose accompanying petition urging the Indian government to make gender sensitisation classes mandatory in schools has now collected almost 1 million signaturesthe point at which Tata Tea will deliver it to the minister in charge of India’s education policy.

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