Chiffon Sarees and Women’s Empowerment

Madam, we are making a documentary on Women in Participatory Democracy. I believe that is your responsibility? 

Oh! That is such a good idea. Now, which saree should I wear for the shoot? 

Madam, the film is about women at the last mile who are contributing towards making India better.

And, who do you think is allowing them to do so? I have been providing them the policy framework and the computers to be able to do that, so I must be the main character in the film.

Madam, the main character is a woman gram pradhan from a village in Uttarakhand who solved the drinking water problem of her village by laying a pipeline from a spring using gravity to provide 24x7 water supply to the village.  

Aha! And she spent all her grant doing that. What about all-round development of her village? These villagers really have no capacity to think.

But Madam, these women are working based on felt needs. The villagers’ highest priority was water; the pradhan got one chance to solve it and she did.  The area had been wanting for development funds that were not forthcoming either from the centre or the state for decades.

Felt needs! I can teach them a thing or two about that. They have to maximise what they have and learn to use their three buckets of water a day well. Just like I manage with only 50 sarees and limited make-up. My daily-wear jewellery is only a necklace and a few rings. Even I have a felt need for weekly spa treatment but I restrict myself to having it only once a month. 

That is indeed a sacrifice Madam. We make films with limited resources and have already finished shooting over a three-day period talking to a cross-section of women in three states. 

Oh! But you must film me for three days too. 

But why, Madam? It took us three days to film over thirty women at the grassroots, why would we need to film only you for three days?

Well, you have to film me in my purple saree showing me at work in my office. You must start in the morning and keep filming the whole day to capture my full work day. Only then can I select the parts in which I am looking the best.

And the other two days? 

Silly, you have to film me in my garden – it is full of flowers and I have just bought a pink chiffon that goes so well with them. On the third day you can film me working from home.

But how does that fit in with a film on women’s empowerment...? 

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