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Fourteen people have been awarded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-Laadli Media Awards 2009-2010 in the capital for their contribution to gender sensitivity in the media.

The gender crusaders, selected from a list of 80 candidates across a cross-section of electronic and print media, were honoured Tuesday for “highlighting serious gender issues challenging the stereotypical portrayals of women’s issues in the society” at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) theatre.

The winners included advertising veteran Tara Sinha, who was honoured with the UNFPA-Lifetime Achievement Award; Tanya Chaitanya, editor of Femina; filmmaker Bauddhayan Mukherjee; anchor Richa Anirudh; host Sharat Kumar; writer Vaidehi Ranganathan and filmmaker Ananya Chatterjee-Chakraborty.

On the occasion, the winners narrated a gamut of stories. Richa Anirudh, the host of “Zindagi Live” on IBN 7, recalled the struggle of doctor Neetu Khurana, who appeared on her show.

“When Khurana was pregnant with twin girls, her husband, also a doctor, wanted to abort the children. She moved a court against her husband under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PNDT) Act and saved her babies,” Anirudh told IANS.

Her show was adjudged the best topical programme.

Ananya Chatterjee-Chakraborty, whose documentary “Understanding Trafficking” telecast on IAWRT channel won the award for the best documentary, said she “was inspired by the struggle of a sex worker, Juhi Singh, who fought against the system and managed to free herself from her trade to rebuild her life”.

Filmmaker Bauddhayan Mukherji, whose advertising clip, Ring the Bell (Bell Bajao campaign), against domestic violence won the “best public service advertisement” said the “success of the clip, which showed a man walking down a corridor to ring the bell (buzzer) of a squabbling couple for a cup of milk to stop the fight, was its sheer simplicity”.

“Never before in the history of Indian public service advertising had there been a campaign that was so easy to relate to,” Mukherjee told IANS.

The statistics of domestic violence in India is alarming.

“One out of every three women are subject to domestic violence and only 40 percent of the cases are reported to the police,” Sonali Khan of the Bell Bajao team said.

The award ceremony was presided over by Purnima Mane, deputy executive director of the UNFPA, and Delhi Health Minister Kiran Walia. It was accompanied by a skit by actress Lushin Dubey, a dance choreography by Kiran Sehgal on gender abuse and the unveiling of a book on gender atrocities and sex ratio.

“The idea behind the awards was to sensitise the media towards gender issues. The media like every one else was insensitive to gender imbalances and atrocities in the country. The campaign and the awards have also brought the corporate bodies and the social sectors under one platform to partner social reforms initiatives,” Bobby Sista, the man behind the campaign, said.

“The government is only too happy. The problem with the government schemes is that it does not have an effective implementing authority,” Sista, the Mumbai-based former advertising veteran, told IANS.

Census 2001 threw up a startling sex ratio revelation – a sex ratio imbalance of 927 girls for every 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years. In 2005-07, the ratio stood at 901 for every 1,000 boys, while in states like Haryana, Delhi, Punjab and Gujarat, it dwindled to less than 900 girls.

Taking a cue from the statistics that countrywide sex ratio surveys showed, Laadli, the Mumbai-based non-profit organisation, tied up with the UNFPA in 2005 to launch the Population First campaign. csssssssssssssssssss

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