Bollywood Women Workers Form Advocacy Groups, Bypassing Male-Dominated Unions

Image courtesy: Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

Women working in India’s Bollywood film industry are taking matters into their own hands to address long-standing issues of gender inequality and poor working conditions. Despite the prominence of female protagonists on screen, behind the scenes, the industry remains heavily male-dominated. Female workers have struggled with issues such as the lack of adequate toilets, childcare facilities, lower pay, and late-night shifts without personal safety considerations.

Traditional trade unions in the film industry have failed to address these concerns adequately, prompting women like Petrina D’Rozario, a film producer, to establish advocacy groups like Women in Film and Television, India. These independent organizations offer a platform for women to find work, seek advice on workplace harassment cases, and share professional insights.

In India’s vast movie business, men outnumber women in Bollywood film crews by a ratio of five to two. This imbalance is attributed to women’s underrepresentation in unions and leadership roles. A 2022 report revealed that women hold only about 10% of senior management positions on set.

B N Tiwari, president of the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), acknowledges the issue of women’s underrepresentation in unions and vows to address it. However, challenges persist, including discrimination in recruitment and the fact that many industry workers are on short-term contracts.

While progress has been made in some areas, such as breaking the informal ban on female makeup artists, the gender pay gap remains a pressing concern. Women’s advocacy groups are working to provide scholarships, internships, and networking opportunities, striving to create a more inclusive and equitable environment in Bollywood. Thus, “There is an iceberg of issues, we are just about touching the surface.”

Re-reported from the article originally published in

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