By Pragya Narang
Actor, entrepreneur and author Saloni Chopra insists that changing patriarchal societies and mindsets in South Asia can happen only when women are financially independent and don’t allow marriage and motherhood to consume them.
“We need to ensure that women are financially independent and they make enough money, as men don’t consider women equals because women remain dependent on their partners or their fathers,” said the actor who proactively uses her social media to raise voices for women’s issues such as safety and equal rights.
Speaking at eShe’s South Asia Union Summit Led by Women, Saloni was part of a panel titled “Feminist Lens: Women’s Visibility and the Culture of Silence” along with Pakistani columnist, writer and TV show host Mehr Tarar and Afghan-origin journalist, broadcaster and writer Najiba Laima Kasraee, currently in Prague. The session was moderated by producer-director Deepti Chawla, head of distribution, syndication and marketing, National Film Development Corporation of India.
Sharing her concerns on how women essentially become invisible post marriage and lose their individuality, Saloni said, “After women get married and have children, they are so isolated from society that it is a different kind of silencing, where we don’t see stories of women in their 40s, 50s, or 60s. That needs to change.”
She also felt that despite the advent of the internet and the increased visibility of women and girls in social media and on messaging platforms, this had not translated to greater equality for women in the real world and in society and workplaces.
For that to happen, she said: “Fathers need to play a greater part in the child’s upbringing, and bring more vulnerabilities, connections, and conversation more than just paying the bills.”
Saloni’s book, Rescued by a Feminist (2021) is a collection of essays on a variety of topics, including gender equality, violence against women, and social media.
She was one of the few courageous actors to open up about her experiences of sexual harassment by a senior colleague at work during the #MeToo movement.
Yet she understands why women remain silent when abuse happens. “You don’t want to bite the hand that feeds you. Speaking about abuse, especially within the industry or your workplace, means you don’t end up getting as much work as you would have if you had stayed silent,” she stated.
View the highlights of her talk here: