Change starts here

Redefining women’s status in society

For decades, men dominated Bollywood, and Bollywood dominated entertainment. Women were underrepresented in film, television and society. Something had to change.

Tulsi in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi
Parvati in Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki

In early 2000, we began an unprecedented movement in the world of programming by creating the first shows that focused on empowered, independent women – ‘K-serials’. Our female-centric content established us as a positive force that questioned, provoked and challenged age-old norms and values.

“TV became the absolute counterpart to films – where the male machismo, the hero was the one whose stories were told. And TV became the alternative medium where women told their stories”
Ekta Kapoor, pioneer of Indian TV drama

Old stereotypes, new opportunities

The different and progressive roles our shows featured drove a change in the nation. Women began to seize new possibilities, breaking away from the stereotypes of the ‘purdah’ to transform themselves and the country, in jobs such as police officers or by leading international corporations.

We were at the heart of this evolution as we continued to embrace progressive thinking and built on our relationship with people across India with the philosophy, ‘Rishta Wohi Soch Nayi’ which celebrates progress for women.

“Woh Padhegi, Woh Udegi… it’s what I’ve truly believed in and it’s a motto shared by every one of the amazing women who have joined me on this journey. We believe that storytelling is a powerful way to inspire people and also to empower them to take action.”

Priyanka Chopra, Girl Rising Producer and Ambassador

Biker in mumbai

Inspiring an entire generation of women

Our journey to demonstrate progressive thinking started with a series of shows including ‘Aap Ki Kachehri’. A groundbreaking reality arbitration show that gave a platform to Kiran Bedi, a respected activist, icon and former top cop.

Kiran Bedi in 'Aap Ki Kachehri'
Gopi in 'Saath Nibhaana Saathiya'

This show surpassed traditional entertainment to democratise justice. It opened the door and ushered in a new era of socially relevant programming.

This new impactful wave included shows such as ‘Saath Nibhaana Saathiya’ – the story of a newlywed woman who went back to school with the help of her in-laws. And ‘Mann Kee Awaaz Pratigya’ – the story of an educated woman who would do anything to stand up for her rights in her patriarchal marital home. These shows portrayed women in progressive roles, shining a light on the opportunities for them in society.

Overcoming traditional norms

We recognized women as the center of the family and encouraged their aspirations. Where marriage was looked at as an end to career for many Indian women, we believed that dreams could be achieved after marriage too.

Teacher in a Mumbai school
Sandhya in 'Diya Aur Baati Hum'

The country seemed to 
agree with us when the story of Sandhya in ‘Diya Aur Baati Hum’ became the top rated show of Indian television. It illustrated the story of a woman with a dream to become an IPS officer – she overcame this struggle with her husband’s support. Another show that captured a woman’s dream to overcome traditional societal norms was ‘Everest’, which told the story of Anjali’s quest to fulfil her father’s dream of conquering the great mountain. The ambitious show was symbolic of everyone’s ‘Everest’, expressing that women can do anything.

Anjali in 'Everest'

Life OK’s ‘Saubhagyavati Bhav’ also captured India’s heart. The show depicted the struggle of Jahnvi, a woman faced with an abusive husband, which is a typical situation that is never discussed openly. The show was scripted in line with the nation’s attitude and feelings as we ran a campaign asking viewers whether Jahnvi should try to reform her violent husband or start afresh. Jahnvi walked out of that marriage – inspiring women and showing that domestic violence is unacceptable. We also ran Breakthrough's ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign across seven districts in Uttar Pradesh and five districts in Delhi and Karnataka, encouraging men to take a stand against domestic violence.

The real world impact of TV

A report by University of Chicago and Brown University found that in rural areas with cable TV, school attendance for 6-10 year old girls increased by 8%, villages latrines would increase from 2 to 25, while son preference and reports of domestic beatings as acceptable were decreasing by 12% and 10% respectively.

Our vision was to spark social impact by bringing the power of TV to everyone. Articles by global press, including Forbes and Slate, dubbed Indian TV as ‘The Empowerment Box’. Over and above this, more women than ever were enrolling in higher education with the average marriage age and gaps between children increasing. It was humbling to see tangible results as we began to succeed in our endeavour to inspire change.

Students in a Mumbai school

Our impact beyond the screen

Our commitment to women’s issues went beyond the incredible difference our ‘K-serials’ made. VithU, a personal safety app from Channel [V] allowed women in danger to send their location to emergency contacts at the click of a button. Our network channels aired public service advertising for the app and since July 2013 it’s been downloaded over a million times.

A commuter in Mumbai local

‘Satyamev Jayate’ is our groundbreaking reality show that deals with sensitive societal issues in India. After an episode that tackled female foeticide, the Rajasthan High Court approved fast track courts to expedite prosecution for these types of cases. Similarly an episode that discussed rape encouraged Union Health Ministers to pass an ordinance banning invasive tests for rape survivors. While Snehalya, an NGO built Maharashtra’s biggest short stay home for women and girls in distress – providing shelter, legal aid, medical and psychological care, and training and skills development. The Maharashtra state government further acknowledged the role of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ in the reversal of two decades of gender ratio decline.

An impact story of 'Satyamev Jayate'

Female athletes’ successes

As we concentrated on the problems that women faced, we also focused on celebrating their achievements.

Kabaddi practice match at Shivaji Park, Mumbai

In June 2016, we championed women in sport by introducing the Women’s Kabaddi Challenge (WKC) and our internal #CROSSTHELINE campaign. An incredible 38 million viewers watched the first two matches – the highest viewership of any women’s sport in India.

#Crosstheline, Star Sports Womens' Kabaddi Challenge

‘Nayi Soch’ – ‘New Thinking’

Since 1991, we’ve embarked on a journey to ‘Inspire a billion imaginations’. With our strong female roles, women have propelled themselves forward beyond merely thinking about their family, there are now more opportunities to balance family and their own interests and aspirations – from ‘family before me’ to ‘I within we’.

Ajinkya Rahane, Indian Cricket player endorsing 'Nayi Soch'
P.O.W. - Bandi Yuddh Ke
Avni in 'Naamkarann'

The ideology behind ‘Nayi Soch’ is to underline the limitless power of women. Today women are opening up endless possibilities for themselves and for generations to follow. Our mission is to challenge the stereotypes that come in the way of progress for women.

With ‘Nayi Soch’ we’ll continue to question societal stereotypes – not resting until women enjoy equality and independence. By continuing to innovate with progressive female characters, we believe that women will play a significant role in their families’ decisions and in the future of our nation.

Imagine more
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