Pink Ladoo – Eradicating South Asian Gender Bias

What is the Pink Ladoo Project?

The Pink Ladoo Project – a campaign tackling the problem of gender inequality within the South Asian community. Its aim is to eradicate gender-biased South Asian practices, customs, and traditions.

“We want people to change the way they react to the birth of a girl. We want girls to be
welcomed into this world with the same joy and enthusiasm as boys, instead of indifference or remorse.” – Sharon, UK National Director of Pink Ladoo

So whilst on the face of it, it might look like the campaign is just about giving out sweets
when a girl is born, it’s actually much more than that. It’s about making a stand and creating new traditions and customs that empower women instead of sidelining them.

We thought our readers would love to hear more about Pink Ladoo. We have the UK National Director Sharon to tell us more:

How did it get started and why?

The Founder and Global Director, Raj Khaira recognised there was a need for change and
took action.

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Raj Khaira, Global CEO & Founder & Sharon – UK National Director Pink Ladoo

When her sister was born, Raj was 12 and was struck by the difference in the way people
reacted to her sister’s birth to her brother’s. When Raj’s sister was born people came to the house and cried, said awful things to Raj’s mum but when Raj’s brother was born, there was joy all around.

It was whilst packing the boxes of Ladoos that the family were going to give out to the
community to mark her brother’s birth, Raj had a conversation with her mom about starting a trend to mark the birth of a girl.

The idea had fallen away until Raj’s best friend had a baby girl, Raj was hearing many of the same things that she heard when her sister was born decades ago.

In response to all of this, in September 2015, Raj founded the Pink Ladoo Project and has
been doing an amazing job since. Raj’s determination, commitment, and passion for gender inequality really is inspiring and she continues to make a real impact.

What methods do you use to bring change in the community?

There are a number of things we do.

Firstly, we ask families to celebrate the births of their daughters by distributing Pink Ladoo within their communities and then to then simply share their stories with us. This allows us to then feature these examples of families that have celebrated their girls to encourage and inspire others to do the same.

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We also motivate families to take on our message and in return we share inspirational
messages across our social media platforms, these sometimes include posts about notable South Asian women in history and stories from real-life women who have felt the effect of sexist traditions and customs.

Another way, we bring change is by sharing stories & pictures that will spark discussions about other South Asian gender-biased traditions. One of the most powerful stories for us when we posted about a woman being given away by her mother instead of her father at her wedding. This post went viral and this one picture reached over 4 million people.

Finally, we continue to hold events that will help us spread the word on gender inequality.

How did the name Pink Ladoo come about?

jECbR6biAlthough Pink may be associated with being weak, mild and submissive in many Western cultures other cultures represent Pink differently. For thousands of years, Pink and Red have been symbols of strength, power, luck, and celebration in South Asian cultures and are worn by both South Asian men and women during weddings and other festivities.

So, the Pink in ‘Pink Ladoo’ is borrowed from both cultures and is used as a symbol for girls and women, prosperity and joy.

Why is gender bias such a big problem in the South Asian culture?

How long do we have to talk about this?!

The main reason for gender-inequality in the South Asian community is a direct result of the low status of women and that’s mainly because of the sexist traditions and customs that still exist today.

Some of these traditions and customs include dowry, father to son estate and name
inheritance and finally the concept of a son only being able to look the parents in old age. All of these have worked together to lower the value and status of South Asian women.

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What has the campaign achieved so far?

Our campaign heavily relies on social media and to date, we’ve gained over 45,000
followers across our social media platforms, globally.

We have teams in 4 different countries (U.K., Canada, U.S. & Australia) and have featured in some of the biggest news outlets, including, The Guardian, The Metro, Eastern Eye, The Lawyer, India Today, Huffington Post, Stylist, Vice and CBC News.

Did your family and friends support Pink Ladoo when it first came about?

Like most, my parents had blindly accepted what had become the cultural norm over time. It’s funny because when I was born, my dad actually had wanted to celebrate my birth but unfortunately, due to the pressure of pleasing society he decided not too. Fast forward a number of years, I eventually opened up the conversation on gender inequality within our household.

Once this conversation had taken place (on celebrating the birth of daughters) my parents took a positive step forward to celebrate the birth of their granddaughters. Since then, we continue to tackle many other gender inequality issues that still remain in society today.

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British Bindi’s Amani & Kiran repping the Pink Ladoo t-shirts with Sharon.

What have been your biggest challenges as a movement?

To me, it has to be when people deny or disagree that there is an issue of gender inequality within our community. I often hear families say there is no gender inequality issue within their households as they celebrate the birth of their daughters. However, I then notice there are other sexist practices, customs, and traditions that still take place in those same households.

It concerns me as they are denying there is an issue and making gender inequality the norm within their family.

Do you have any tips for people who want to encourage change and challenge gender barriers within the community and how would you encourage them to get involved in the project specifically whether they are male or female?

Joint support of the community is needed to create this new culture and together we need to erase any old practices that lower the value of girls and women and create new customs that elevate the status of them.

The campaign has received countless messages from families saying they wanted to
celebrate the birth of their daughter but until seeing the Pink Ladoo Project they didn’t know how.

We feel the South Asian community are sometimes reluctant to take a step towards change because it can be overwhelming and they may feel alone but we want people to feel supported in doing so.

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What’s next for the organisation?

Even though the Pink Ladoo Project has organically grown to be successful and we continue to reach people across the globe, there’s still a lot to do, mainly because gender inequality still exists.

Our team will continue to be that platform to spark those conversations and for people to share their powerful stories and also inspire and empower others to do the same.

We are a no profit campaign and take no salary or fees for any work we carryout. All we ask is for people support us in making this positive change by spreading the word about Pink Ladoo by posting, tweeting, tagging, sharing and discussing the campaign.

You can follow Pink Ladoo on social media: @pinkladoo
Check them out on http://www.pinkladoo.org and see how you can get involved. 

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British Bindi’s Kiran & Amani selfie with Sharon.
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britishbindi

An Award-Nominated blog which discusses what it's like to be a contemporary British Asian Woman.

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