‘Advertisements reinforcing gender stereotypes’

New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) Advertisements are unthinkingly reinforcing gender stereotypes, says noted journalist Naghma Sahar during a travelling photo exhibition titled “Each Click Counts” on the theme of “Being A Girl”.

The exhibition was organised on Friday at India Habitat Centre here, by “Girls Count” a national coalition of over 400 civil organisations across the country.

“Advertisements are unconsciously reinforcing gender stereotypes. In the advertisement of a washing machine, women are shown washing clothes. A recent advertisement said – A washing machine that men can also use, Sahar said adding: “as if men could not operate the previously available machines”.

“This also implies to other household jobs that are considered to be the tasks and responsibilities of women, said Sahar in a panel discussion post the exhibition.

“The motive of the exhibition was to urge professional and amateur photographers from across the country to use their cameras as an instrument of change and submit photographs which capture different forms of discrimination between girls and boys witnessed in our society and also promote the value of women and girls,” said the organisers.

Sahar also talked about the manner in which gender stereotype is passed on to children at the very household level.

“Mothers and fathers play different roles at homes and that’s how they pass on stereotypes of gender. We need to gently change these things in our homes,” she said.

“We don’t want women to become men-haters but are looking for equality,” said Sahar, adding: :Gender equality is a right. It is nothing extra or a gift given to us.”

Referring to these stereotypes, Programme Specialist at Women’s Economic Empowerment, UN Women, Subhalakshmi Nandi said: “You are challenged everyday. I end up fighting with people for promoting such stereotypes everyday.”

She elaborated this describing a recent episode where she went to order her child’s birthday cake and was questioned whether the child was a girl or a boy.

“I said, it has to be sweet and chocolaty. Why is the sex of the child required for the preparation of the birthday cake,” she commented on the stereotypical designing of every trivial thing associated with an individual.

“You have to get away from this kind of factory production where your sex decides the colour of your clothes, the type of your toys, the area of your interests and the like.”

In this light, to enlighten the youth with the issue of gender inequality, “Girls Count” started a photo contest in 2015.

Subsequently, 30 best photographs were selected by the jury members on the basis of parametres such as originality, reflection of theme, technical excellence and overall impact of the photograph.

The selected photographs have become part of the travelling exhibition and will be taken to different public places in Delhi/NCR to raise a discourse among the youth around to enhance gender equality.

The National Foundation for India (NFI), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women have provided their technical support to this action.

The initiative was also endorsed by the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Programme and the ministry of women and child development.



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