Who is the real MARD?
The real man is one who does not feel the need to assert his dominance over a woman, physically or mentally. A real man is one who does not perpetuate violence against women, and a real man is one who respects and admires women without feeling inferior or emasculated. These are the points which Farhan Akhtar wants to raise, through the MARD campaign.
The campaign is based on the premise that men should learn to respect women and their sense of security. A real man will help a woman in trouble, and will not be the cause of the trouble instead. However, apart from encouraging men to stand up for women, the MARD Campaign also deals with gender inequality. The campaign was started by Akhtar in 2013, following the aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident, and the rape of Pallavi Puryakastha, a lawyer in Mumbai, who was raped by the watchmen of her house. Akhtar, through this campaign, wants to bring about more widespread awareness towards the protection of women. MARD stands for Men Against Rape and Discrimination.
While women have to rise up and stand up for themselves and their own gender, it is refreshing to see a man stand up to address the issue of what modern masculinity means, and how it should be reframed in the minds of many. Instead of wasting his celebrity status, Farhan Akhtar is going all out to ensure that he uses the same to spread the message to a wider audience. The MARD logo, the moustache, is something which Akhtar has refused to patent. He has given everyone the free reign of using the logo as they please, because the main issue here is not branding, but awareness.
Akhtar has started using social networking media to get across to as many friends and followers as possible. He keeps tweeting about the MARD campaign, and his posts are centered around the changes which need to be made in the perception of masculinity for men who are truly masculine, and who do not need to put women down in order to exhibit their masculinity.
One of the most important points which have been brought up in the MARD campaign, is the fact that young boys need to be taught about gender equality from a very young age. In order to bring about social change, and in order to remove the deeply entrenched patriarchal value system, young boys need to be taught how to respect women from their childhood. This will help them grow into better adults, and will hence, create a better society in the future.
Farhan Akhtar has used the IPL popularity to his own advantage. With supporters like Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Gavaskar, he used media coverage as well as the public interest in the IPL to promote the cause of the MARD campaign. He has also garnered support from celebrities such as Shabana Azmi as well as Priyanka Chopra. We need more men to stand up, and be a MARD, in order to truly bring about change in societal perceptions, and in order to stop discriminatory practices against women.