One has to credit Pond’s for being consistent. The brand’s ‘Miracle Journey’ enterprise is now in its third year, regularly endeavoring to put the women of Pakistan on a pedestal. Every year 10 ‘miraculous’ women who have balanced their home lives with exceptional career growth are handpicked to be ‘Mentors’ for the year. These women then proceed to select ten women each who they think have been miracle workers in their personal journeys. And every year, the brand pays homage to these 110 women by lauding their achievements by floating out their life stories into print and electronic media and inviting them to a glitzy ceremony.
“A miracle mentor selects 10 women and in a year you hear 100 miracle stories that leave you with enough to ponder about," says Fareshteh Aslam, who plays a pivotal role in the project.
"That’s a 100 stories of unsung heroes who live amongst us. The annual gala evening seeks to celebrate triumph of hope over despair and highlights a woman’s unflinching resolve against all odds.”
The women, flown in from different parts of the country, truss up, pose quite a bit for the cameras and wax lyrical about how the project has helped in boosting their confidence. Which is all well and good - except that the project often gets critiqued by particularly zoning in on the rich and well-coiffured. The main Miracle Mentors invariably tend to be from amongst the country’s glamorous set; a mixed variation of celebrities, designers, entrepreneurs and philanthropists, all doing great work but generally from the upper crust. The ten women that the mentors choose, though, tend to come from all walks of life – homemakers, cancer survivors, working mothers struggling to make ends meet, among them.
It’s understandable that a good dose of glamour is required to make people sit up and take notice of the project but as a platform dedicated to women, there’s no denying that Pond’s needs to have a more diverse group as its main ‘Miracle Mentors’. A little less of the glamour and a lot more of the gritty and real and the platform could certainly become more meaningful.
Apparently, Pond’s understands this. The ceremony just around the corner for this year is going to announce that the women chosen by the mentors will range from age 25 to 30. “This is particularly an age at which young women need guidance,” explains Fareshteh. “They are going to be mentored more regularly and we will slot them into categories like education, arts, medicine according to their area of expertise. With this change, Pond’s will be taking the Journey to the next level and to honor it, all 330 Miracle Women from the last three years have been invited. It’s going to be a ceremony on a very large scale.”
Taking center stage will be Sarmad Khoosat as the host. Khoosat has also written the script and one expects it to be peppered with his typical brand of cerebral banter. During the course of the ceremony, he will be talking about the various stages that a woman goes through in life and people will be coming in through the acts, tracing the woman’s story.
Revving things up will be a performance by Noori.
It promises to be a characteristically grand affair, with designer-clad ladies, a witty celebrity host and some rockstars in the mix. In these troubled times, though, a platform dedicated to women needs to feature more than mere song and dance. We live in a society where a Qandeel Baloch was murdered in cold blood in the name of honor, where women’s rights are often non-existent, where chauvinism is a norm. In its third year now, we hope that PMJ throws light on these issues. And if it can fork out a budget for a grand ceremony, we’re hoping that it can also aid charities working to support women.
PMJ has certainly caught our attention. We’re hoping that now, in its third year, it will be journeying further.