Shakti’s Bihar Poll Campaign Wins Cannes Lions Awards


Political Shakti, a nonpartisan NGO fighting for gender equality in politics, was awarded a gold and two silver medals at the Cannes Lions for its campaign to increase women’s representation in the 2020 elections in Bihar.

As part of Shakti’s ‘Selfless Selfie’ campaign, female Mukhiyas (elected leaders of the Panchayats) took selfies while holding placards asking political parties to donate 50% of party tickets to female candidates. The selfie had turned it into a nomination resume, even as Shakti volunteers appealed to 140 NGOs to reach 45,000 villages and mobilize female party workers to use WhatsApp to send their “Nominate-me -selfies” to their local party leaders.

Shakti volunteers also made an 80-second film to spread the urgent need to elect women to state legislatures. The film was made in collaboration with FCB Ulka and Basta Films thanks to the crowdsourcing of funds.

Soon, the issue of women’s representation became a national issue, thanks to the campaign. As a result, the number of women candidates in all political parties has increased, and the number of women elected to legislative elections has also increased by 25%. It also had a ripple effect. During its rollout in Bengal, the ruling party gave an unprecedented 45% of its tickets to women. The campaign turned into a movement, with women leaders challenging political power structures to move towards true democracy.

Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Political Shakti, said: “The awards are a global testament to Shakti’s volunteer creativity. The political Shakti’s Bihar campaign took place in the time of Covid, when holding rallies or street campaigns were ruled out. However, an essentially selfish and narcissistic tool like a selfie has been turned into a public campaign tool.


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