Every year the buzz around International Women's Day rises and falls, and we as a society fleetingly advocate the same rights with every passing year. This time, Viviana Mall went above and beyond the humdrum marketing efforts and became an agent for social change by tackling head-on a menace that plagues womankind - Ever-rising sexual harassment.
In an endeavor to celebrate the spirit of womanhood, Viviana Mall went a step ahead of the regular run-of-the-mill engagement and partnered with Thane Police to launch #MeraFarzHai. The movement aims to tackle the menace of sexual harassment and build a safer world for women.
Started with the aim to make a difference and bring a change in the society, the movement will include participation from the society and the customers of the mall who come.
The campaign collectively encourages everyone to make it their responsibility to ensure the safety and security of women and contribute towards stopping sexual harassment. Launched under the aegis of the “ExtraordiNaari” initiative by Viviana Mall, this campaign released a film in a unique way by organizing India’s first-ever blindfolded press conference. The members of the press were asked to blindfold themselves and a touching poem that aligned their minds to the plight of women and the horrors they go through on a daily basis was read out to them before unveiling the film. The impact that this activity had on the press was profound. The film was later showcased across all theatre screens in the Thane, Kalyan and Dombivali area in approximately 40 theatres and 150 screens. The film received great appreciation from the audience and amassed over a million views all across the social media platforms.
Joint CP Suresh Kumar Mekhla, Thane City, and ACP Padmaja Chavan, Special Branch, Thane City, unveiled the #MeraFarzHai hashtag.
In addition to that, John Lazarus Mascarenhas, a well-known Martial Arts and Self-Defense Instructor with over 30 years of experience conducted a workshop on gender sensitization and self-defense demonstration for women. Over 2000+ women were trained for self-defense at Viviana Mall.
The next leg of the campaign was aimed at making the bystanders more efficient, adept, and responsible than ever before. In India, people experience crimes as victims and as witnesses and in both these cases, the intent to call for help is evident. However, when it comes to reaching out for help, there is a lag. According to a sample survey conducted by Viviana Mall, more than 85% of people did not recollect having more than 2 emergency numbers. Also, people procrastinate saving emergency helpline numbers. This observation led to the campaign’s objective; delivering an easy contact saving process for victims and eyewitnesses.
This was achieved with the help of micro tech that was enabled on the website of Viviana Mall. A unique URL was created. This URL contained a master contact card with a list of all numbers. All one needed to do was click on the URL and all emergency contacts would be saved on one’s phone in a fraction of a second - all thanks to technology. This gave people a chance for saving all the possible helpline numbers with a single click. This URL went viral with over 15000+ saves organically and counting. The scale of this campaign was augmented through a 360° advertising model, i.e. an online and an offline marketing strategy. What was circulated as a URL online was shared as a QR code offline on Digital Screens at the mall, encouraging people to be ever ready, no matter what the nature of the emergency.
#MeraFarzHai was also supported by the celebrities and models at the Bombay Times Fashion Week. Well known actor, Vivek Oberoi supported it and also was followed by models with their mouths taped shut. The fashion show depicted day-to-day scenarios where a woman is catcalled yet no one speaks up. The show ended with a poem that encouraged people to remove their metaphorical tape and speak up during times of such crimes and incidents. After the fashion show, people came forward to sign a “pledge wall”, and thereby extend their support towards the initiative
Rima Kirtikar, chief marketing officer, Viviana Mall said, "As a responsible corporate, we have always introduced programs and campaigns that are aligned to the benefit of society in general and in particular, our "ExtraordiNaari" program that has focused on women and their welfare. This year, we believed that the sensitive issue of harassment and abuse needed to be addressed and the pertinent point that came across all of us was that it is always viewed as someone else's problem and issue to be solved. The idea here was to involve society to be more conscious and to take the onus on to themselves to report any incident and get involved where it is necessary to become a deterrent to incidents. The campaign puts the onus of creating a safer world for women, on each one of us. This was just the beginning of this never-ending campaign, we are planning on conducting various gender-sensitization and self-defence seminars in schools and colleges soon. Through all the efforts, we believe that a more inclusive and participative community will go a long way to create a more secure and safe environment for all."
The campaign was curated and executed by White Rivers Media. Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and Co-Founder of White Rivers Media said, "It’s a great opportunity to be serving one of our oldest clients with a campaign that will not only last for long but will have a positive impact across various strata of society. Thanks to all the support from creative and PR agencies, this campaign could reach beyond what we had initially projected. #MeraFarzHai will soon be a commonly accepted term and create a lot of vigilance amongst people at large about not only women being abused but across various causes wherein they can catalyze a change as a bystander.
Vinod Kunj, CCO & Managing Partner, Thought Blurb said, “We’ve worked with Viviana Mall for the last 6 years, and helped them grow their flagship event ‘ExtraordiNaari’ into a powerful tool of social change over the years. Sexual Violence is one topic that is, unfortunately, always ‘current’. It’s always in the spotlight. However, the conversation has mainly revolved around the victim and the perpetrator. At thought blurb, we’ve always pushed ourselves to look at problems from new angles and perspectives. In doing so, we realized that there was a third person in the story that has always been left out of these conversations – the bystander- people like you and me. From this insight, the ‘Mera Farz Hai’ campaign was born. It’s a unique take to the problem that puts the onus of creating a safer world for women, on each of us.”
Renu Somani, executive creative director, Thought Blurb said, “We didn’t have to look far for inspiration for the ‘Mera Farz Hai’ film. These were situations that we’ve seen happen around us and may have faced them too. We wanted the film to reach the ‘bystander’. People who have witnessed harassment, and never spoken up. Through this film, we tried to make them aware of their role in preventing sexual violence, by highlighting the fact that our silence will only encourage the perpetrators. We did this by introducing the victim’s POV – an empty bus or office. This drove home the point about how helpless or lost victims feel when we turn a blind eye to harassment.”
(We got this information in a press release.)