She is one of the perfect examples of what a young, modern Indian girl can be. “I have always been someone who is confident, strong; if I feel strongly about something, I have raised my voice and expressed my opinions and I will continue to be like that,” says Sonakshi Sinha. On International Women’s Day (March 8), HT Café catches up with the actor, who will next be seen in Noor, to talk about women empowerment, feminism, equal rights for women and more.
In today’s day and age, what does being a woman mean to you?
I feel, as women, we are standing up, raising our voices, taking a stand and, most importantly, being heard. I think it’s a great time for women to do all of these things and also make our voices heard. I am very happy that I can be a part of that change. I feel really good that I am able to work on my own terms and conditions. And I hope, pray and wish the same for every woman including from India.
Do you feel it’s a critical time for equality of women in India?
Absolutely! I wish it had started much earlier. I think when it comes to other countries, we are way behind and we should have started doing this long back. But it’s great that today, with the media, social networking platforms, and other modes of communication, and ways of putting our message across, women have been able to push across their voices so that they can be heard.
Feminism has elicited different kinds of responses from various quarters. What’s your take?
I feel feminism is all about uplifting one another. It’s not about male bashing and using it to your advantage. You can’t use it as per your convenience. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you have to bash the other sex. For me, feminism is about helping each other out, uplift each other and support gender equality.
However, it looks like many look at feminism in a negative light…
Yes, some people do that. But that’s not what it’s about. A lot of people try and use it to their advantage, and you aren’t supposed to use it to your advantage, but for the upliftment of women. Today, a man can also be a feminist, if he supports and fights for equality of women. So, it’s not restricted to just women. A feminist can be anyone, regardless of the gender.
You grew up with your two brothers (Luv and Kush). In that sense, how do you recall being brought up?
I am one of those lucky ones, who was raised the same way as my brothers. I was never made to feel that there’s something that I can’t do just because I am a girl, or something that I wasn’t allowed to have just because of my gender. And I’m really thankful to my parents for that. However, I do know that a lot of people aren’t as lucky as me, and they don’t have that kind of upbringing. I am sure there a few lucky ones like me as well. Overall, I don’t think that’s the situation. I know that in a lot of places, girls are made to sit at home. So, it’s like, ‘Ladke school jaa rahein hai, toh ladkiyaan nahi jaa sakti’ (the boys are going to school, so the girls don’t need to) and that boys are going to colleges, but girls have to sit at home and get married. I hope, pray and wish that we reach a stage wherein parents don’t discriminate between their kids due to their gender.
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Talking of equality, don’t you think the wage gap between both the genders in Bollywood should also be bridged?
Definitely, it’s high time. While we are fighting for equality in so many different fields, why shouldn’t things be equal for us too? Today, we live in a time when films are being written and made keeping female protagonists in mind. So, if a film can have a male lead and he can be paid a certain amount, why can’t you pay a female actor the same? It’s logical. But as I said, women have started raising their voices and I think things are moving in a direction where that change will also happen.
Do you feel things are changing for women? Or is there still scope for improvement?
It is possible that what we see being done [for women empowerment] is happening at a superficial level. For example, the condition of women in the interior regions of India isn’t up to the mark when it comes to their education, safety, careers, jobs and the professional sphere. There’s immense scope for improvement. I honestly believe that we all have to work together, and also with the government, to do something about it. Only then things will start moving forward. But, to be honest, measures have been taken. As a country, we have a long way to go when it comes to uplifting our women. But I feel that as long as we start moving in that direction, it will be a positive start. I feel, very soon, women will start uplifting each other as well, because that’s what we are promoting and trying to achieve.
How challenging is it to survive as a woman in an industry considered to be dominated by men?
I feel times are changing. There are films being made with female protagonists in mind, so we are moving forward. Yes, it has been a male-dominated industry for very long. Why just the film industry? That holds true for other businesses, too. Men have always had the upper hand, which has been unfair. Today, there’s nothing a woman can’t do as well as — if not better than — a man. We have to move forward in a direction that leads to equality at every level.