Current Affairs

Gender Bias & Inclusion in Advertising in India

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  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    23rd Apr, 2021
  • Context

    Recently, a report named ‘Gender Bias & Inclusion in Advertising in India’ has been released.

  • Background

    • This latest report looks at the role of marketing issues in strengthening and challenging the dangerous gender roles that shape the lives of girls and women in the country.

      This research project was carried out by the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia, UNICEF Program Divsion in New York, and UNICEF India and Geena Davis Institute on Media Gender.

    • UNICEF and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media have analyzed 1,000 India's most viewed advertisements in 2019 on television and on YouTube.
    • This is the first public study to systematically analyze gender representation in advertisements in India for use as a measure to make advertising more gender sensitive in the country.
    • The findings show that although female characters are prominent in advertisements in India, they are still highly regarded: they are less likely to be featured in public places and in paid professions; opportunities to sell home-made products and food to other women and to look after child care and purchasing.
    • Recommendations are given to content creators for driving a marketplace that promotes equality and promotes and empowers sexual practices.
    • Advertising and marketing play a major role in the process of gender socialization and women and girls’ empowerment.
  • Analysis

    What is the Importance of Addressing Stereotypes?

    • UNICEF is working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, with gender equality and empowerment for all women and girls.
    • Promoting positive gender roles in marketing and advertising is essential to achieving this goal.
    • Children learn from the family, schools and community around them.
    • They are exposed to dozens of daily text messages; some are directed at them and some are seen by them, though it was not the intention.
    • Gender beliefs vary over time and culture and a greater understanding of the key issues to be addressed in India to promote equality, to understand the types of advertisements that children and youth in the country can see is required.
    • The process of gender socialization means that the expected gender roles are learned from rebirth is strongly influenced in childhood and adolescence by messages received from the public, including the marketing and advertising they see around them.
    • Negative gender norms and influential beliefs influence children's perceptions and contribute to the formation of different ways of their future.
    • Dealing with gender inequality is essential to achieving gender equality. Communities around the world are becoming increasingly sensitive to gender roles and the advertising world is a powerful representative of change.
    • Achieving gender equality is about eradicating gender stereotypes and gaining equal rights for women and girls - and gender-based advertising is a guarantee of these rights.
    • Positive gender norms in marketing and advertising expose children and young people to a sense of justice and promote a path an inclusive thinking, which has led to better outcomes for all.
  • What is the UNICEF’S work on gender equality in India?

    • UNICEF in India contributes to national efforts to empower all children, especially those who have been marginalized and marginalized, to achieve their full potential and to develop their full potential in an inclusive and secure society.
    • Equality, including gender equality, is at the heart of the national agenda.
    • Gender-focused programs, with a focus on increasing the value of the girl Child are one of the key strategies of UNICEF's 2018-2022 strategic plan.
    • Gender equality in India has benefited from legal and policy initiatives, social protection programs for girls and youth and sensitive gender budgets over the years.
    • India has achieved gender equality in primary enrolment and has increased women's literacy from 54 percent (2001) to 66 percent (2011).
    • India is ranked 108th out of 153 countries in the global gender inequality index by 2020, the highest number since 2015 when it was ranked 130th in 155 countries.
    • India is one of the few countries where the under-five mortality rate among girls is higher than for boys.
    • Many women face a number of social, emotional, physical, economic, and cultural and class discrimination.
    • Adolescent girls experience weakness, including malnutrition, increased burden of care, premature marriage and premature pregnancy, and problems related to reproductive health and empowerment while 56 percent have anaemia.

    One of UNICEF's priorities in India, in line with UNICEF's regional vision, is to address the broader bottlenecks that undermine children's rights by strengthening gender-based and gender-responsive programs in all areas. Key outcomes and strategies include:

    1. Promoting gender and focusing on equality in a girl's life and discrimination communities to reduce child and maternal mortality.
    2. Reducing malnutrition among children and adolescent girls; the water is safe and stable, sanitation and hygiene services include menstrual hygiene management reduction the effects of natural disasters and climate change.
    3. Preventing and responding to child marriages and gender-based violence in emergencies.
    4. Ensuring that all boys and girls learn including engaging with partners and influences as well decision makers to increase access for adolescent girls.
  • What are the harmful gender stereotypes that are been faced today?

    • While research finds that women are well represented in India's most popular advertisements in 2019, with the presence of an equal screen and in fact more talk time than men, they are still stereotyped in potentially harmful ways, and women may be portrayed as younger and more attractive in terms of traditional beauty.
    • Female characters in commercials are more likely to be portrayed in clothing, which is portrayed as nude or sexually challenged compared to male characters.
    • Nearly all cleaning and eating advertisements feature a woman caring for her family who speaks directly to female viewers about caring for their families.
    • This means that female characters abound in Indian advertising, but especially in ways that promote the gender roles of women.
    • Girls are less likely to be featured in advertisements as boys, which means that younger girls are less likely to see themselves as, and important, in society.
    • It is clear that the presence of women and girls in advertising is not enough to drive gender equality: gender equality expression and actively promote gender equality practices is needed to motivate girls and boys on their opportunities, which can be hampered by gender beliefs.
    • Women are less likely to be shown in public spaces, in paid employment, as leaders or making decisions about their futures.
    • These representations bolster traditional gender norms that girls and women belong in the domestic sphere as parents and caretakers, and boys and men get to dream about and plan their futures and reinforce sexist notions that women are less intelligent and humorous than men.
  • What about Gender & Nutrition?

    • Women are firmly placed as the primary – and best – caregiver, while men and boys are not expected to be responsible for choices made around nutrition.
    • To drive gender equity in the home and in purchasing decisions, men and boys could be shown as sharing household tasks, including cooking, cleaning and caring for others.
    • Involving men in the purchase and preparation of meals shows all that everyone should participate in nutrition choices.
    • In terms of healthy bodies, female characters are invariably thin but male characters appear with a variety of body sizes in Indian advertising.
    • This reinforces the idea that girls and women are supposed to take up less space physically and figuratively.
    • Advertising can show women and girls across a variety of body shapes, in line with men, leading to a healthier outlook around body shape.
    • By increasing the proportion of women and girls found in sporting settings, there is the opportunity to increase participation of girls in sports and promotion of healthy, strong bodies for girls and boys.
  • Discrimination based on Colour

    • Advertising presenting characters with lighter skin as more physically attractive than characters with darker skin.
    • Colourism is starkly reflected in Indian advertising in ways that reinforce discriminatory social arrangements.
    • Colourism is also gendered, affecting Indian women more than men.
    • We also find that characters with light skin tones are presented as more physically attractive than characters with darker skin tones and more likely to be represented as middle and upper class.
    • The solution lies in advertisements showing more diverse range of skin colours and tones, especially among women and girls shown in advertising to ensure children see representation across skin types and social class.

    Important Data, Facts and Figures

    • Female characters are just as likely to appear in ads as male characters (49.6% compared with 50.4%).
    • We find that female characters dominate screen time (59.7%) and speaking time (56.3%) in Indian ads.
    • There are more young boys (ages 1 – 12) than girls in ads (20.5% compared with 13.1%).
    • About half of characters are shown as middle-class (51.3%), while few are lower-class (6.4%).
    • A majority of characters with dark skin are presented as lower-class (56.5%) while two-thirds of characters with light skin are shown as upper-class (65.7%).
    • Female characters are four times as likely to have a small body type as male characters (41.8% compared with 9.4%).
  • Way forward

    • While it is gratifying to see that women and girls have achieved or exceeded the level of representation in terms of presence and voice, in-depth analysis shows that the quality of these representations is problematic and has a great potential to improve the Indian advertising community.
    • The study also highlights specific issues and includes specific recommendations for the intervention of advertisers and content creators including but not limited to:
      • Increased representation of women and girls of all ages, social class, skin tone and other indications of diversity.
      • Promoting a variety of beauty models and avoiding recurring beauty practices for women and girls being only fair and thin.
      • Many women and girls are portrayed as leaders, especially in the public sphere.
      • Positive gender norms around the body and attitude towards healthy eating.