For many of us, advertisements can be incredibly boring and unnecessary. Every time an advertisement flashes on to your screen, you sigh inertly and count the seconds until it gets over. However, these advertisements have evolved now; their approach is different now; it’s like short films instead of just a basic advert. This evolution has seen some of the best advertisements about gender equality, feminism, gender inequality, and discrimination. Society has unnecessary mandates for both men and women that are arbitrary and quite unnecessary. These advertisements beautifully tackle them and make us realize the women empowerment – gender inequality
Here are some of the very best ones that give a strong social message as well as advertise innovatively
1. Refreshing Takes on Gender Equality
In 2019, Ariel India, a brand of laundry detergents released a series of advertisements under the banner of #sharetheload. This particular series had some refreshing takes on feminism, gender equality, and women empowerment.
One of these portrayed a newly married daughter talking to her mother over the phone and telling her about how she had left her job. The mother tried reasoning with her daughter on hearing this and asked her whether or not her husband helps her out in the increased household chores. She answers in the negative. All this while the son had been lounging on the bed, amidst a mess of clothes strewn over the floor. With a jolt, the mother realizes her mistake. She immediately sets off to correct it and makes sure that her son will now be responsible enough to partake in his share of household chores.
It’s a great advertisement and sounds and feels more like a short film rather than just another ad for laundry detergent. This ad gives an important social message on the issue of gender inequality. It’s a common occurrence in most households wherein the daughters are expected to help their mothers with the household chores while nothing of the sort is expected out of the men of the house. It brings light to a significant fact in society. Women have stepped up and taken a stride into what was previously recognized or termed as “A Man’s World”.
However, there is still a huge stigma around men working in the kitchen, helping with the cleaning or washing clothes. We can talk about gender equality all we want, but the real world will only inculcate these values when we start at home.
2. Multitasking is Woman’s Domain! Boycott Gender Disparity…
Another one under the same banner, by Ariel, India is that of an elderly father watching his daughter bustling about right after she comes home from work. Her husband sits in front of the television, complacent and slowly sipping on his tea as she juggles between sending a work email, attending a work call, cleaning up the mess left behind by her son, preparing dinner, and running the laundry cycle. He reflects on how unfair it is, and how sorry he is that this is what she had learned out of observing her own parents.
He does not blame her husband, instead blames himself and every parent of his generation. This is because, due to their actions, their children have learned the typical patriarchal gender roles. The same ones that dictate that women should be the sole in-charge of household chores while men take care of their jobs and businesses. He has realized his mistake now and says that it is still not too late to curb gender inequality. Upon returning to his own home, he makes a positive change and begins to help his wife with the laundry.
The advertisement ends with the phrase “Why is laundry only a mother’s job? Dads #sharetheload.” the ad serves as a great stand against gender discrimination. True gender equality can only be achieved when both genders try to break these stereotypes and not only women.
To watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJukf4ifuKs
3. Feminism is Not just a Word – Gender Discrimination is Just a Myth
A short 3-minute ad by “Breakthrough India” talks about the importance of inclusion of women in the economic decisions made in a household.
This time, the setting is in a rural part of India, where a farmer is in great need for money to buy seeds for the next sowing season. While his wife continuously tries to help him with arranging the money, he dismisses her inputs and questions if she even knows anything about economic transactions. Due to the lack of funds, he tries selling his buffalo, but the wife interrupts the deal and asks for a higher amount. The customer leaves, deciding that the price is too unreasonable. The woman then reveals that she has saved up a substantial amount of money in the past and thus saved the farmer and his precious livestock as well.
Many times we see that women are promoted only to limit themselves with the household chores and kitchen work. Economic decisions are made without their consent, and their suggestions are ignored. However, we should now begin to acknowledge that women should be considered equal partners in all decisions concerning a household, including the economic ones.
4. Raise your Children Equally! Gender Equality Begins at Home!
An advertisement by Flipkart under the banner “Generation Equal (Gen E)” made bold and thoughtful statements about gender equality. It addressed the multiple stereotypes we, as a society associate with boys and girls. We assume that crying, dancing, liking so-called “feminine” colors, working in the house etc. are character traits of only a girl. A boy enjoying these activities is termed “girly”. Often, parents too grow concerned over a boy child displaying traits that society has stereotyped as “feminine”.
Similarly, girls are also discouraged from pursuing sports, having an interest in science, like cars or bikes, and dress differently. The advertisement addresses all of this by drawing a parallel between boys and girls. It tries to normalize different ways and aspects of thinking. If young boys and girls are not treated as equals from a young age, they will never treat their counterparts as such when they grow older and enter the real world. It’s important to understand those gender inequalities arise from prejudice and these predated clichés need to be done away with as soon as possible.
To watch: https://youtu.be/lVPlEiWNUxU
5. Why Can’t Boys Cry?
An advertisement by Vogue India bearing the hashtag #voguempower talks about an important social phenomenon. Since a young age, we all have heard the common phrase “boys don’t cry”. It has been so ingrained in our social and cultural environment that we never seem to question it.
Why can’t boys cry? Is it so difficult for society to accept men trying to showcase their emotions in biology’s most natural way? Why does it try to enforce these characteristics of being unbothered and composed at all times? It is natural for men to cry. Most of us know this, but we are yet to accept it. Boys or men crying or in pain are often the center of ridicule and treated as a comic situation due to gender inequality, when it is far from that. It’s high time we normalize men crying.
In a step further, the advertisement also addresses domestic abuse and violence. It tries to change the narrative and explain in a visual way that instead of teaching young boys and men that they shouldn’t cry, they should be taught that they should instead make sure that they aren’t making someone else cry.
In this whole farce of toxic masculinity, we indirectly teach men to suppress their feelings which is not the best for their mental health. They are taught to channelize their sorrow into aggression from an early age. Hence, oftentimes their outlet becomes their female counterparts. It shows in a smart way that domestic abuse finds its roots in the phrase parents so nonchalantly say: “Ladke Nahi rote (Boys don’t cry)”
To watch: https://youtu.be/0Nj99epLFqg
6. Gender Inequality – Family Must Take the First Step!
In an advertisement by Biba, an Indian brand for traditional wear, we see a typical set-up for an arranged marriage, where the boy’s family has come to the girl’s house. After a long discussion, when both sides seem to be getting along, the boy’s mother asks if the alliance is fixed. To this, the girl’s father replies that they would want to check out their house and their son’s capacities to manage it, and his competence in the kitchen before giving their consent.
Usually, the audience would expect outrage from the boy and his family. However, the boy responds rather positively and invites the girl’s family to his house after ten days so he could learn how to cook and prove his competence.
It’s a refreshing take on a typical setting. It questions societal norms and asserts gender equality in the truest of fashions. Why should women have to prove their abilities while men don’t? How fair is it for a girl to have to make her decision about something that stays in effect life-long by just serving tea and a little bit of conversation? These ads go a long way to influence society and are one of the means by which we can bring about a positive change. It’s a great advertisement with feminist undertones and a strong social message against gender inequality.
To watch: https://youtu.be/aS_wwC8P12I
7. Domestic Abuse – How Safe Women are at Home?
In a short film based on domestic violence by Rhombus Films, it sends a great message about women’s safety.
A house party for the wife’s birthday results in a great source of embarrassment for the parents. The film ends up giving a strong message about women’s safety. We talk about how safe our women are outside closed doors, but we rarely discuss the dangers they face in their own homes. Domestic abuse and violence are common in our society, and yet it is not spoken about enough. It is not just confined to the lower and backward sections of society. It is prevalent even in those families that are well to do and consider themselves “woke” or “liberal”.
Domestic abuse can leave massive impacts on a woman’s psyche and can also affect children indirectly. They grow up thinking that violating women is okay. It falls up to us to teach them what is right and what is wrong. How can we preach about women’s safety in the country when she is unsafe at her own home?
8. Domestic Abuse – Help Women up and Empower them!
It shows a woman walking into a hair salon and asking for a concise hair cut. The stylist is confused because the lady has lovely, thick black hair and keeps trying to convince her to let it remain a little bit longer. Finally, it reveals that she wanted it short so that no one could pull on it ever again. It’s a powerful statement made by a niche advertisement.
Many husbands use their wives as an outlet to remove workplace frustration, anxiety or get triggered at the slightest bit of a fault. It is easier for them to prey on women because our society teaches us that women are weaker. Men continue to exploit this so-called “weakness” and use the women in their lives as mere punching bags. Domestic violence and abuse can lead to severe complications, and it in itself is a colossal crime. Help women up and empower them, rather than exploiting their weaknesses.
9. Pregnancy and Discrimination Against Women – Say No to Gender Inequality!
An advertisement by Myntra for an ethnic apparel brand made a powerful statement about women pregnancies and discrimination against women in a corporate set up.
Our society has come a long way in accepting that women can have careers as well. However, there is still a stigma associated with pregnancies and maternal leaves. Most corporate structures discriminate on the basis of these pregnancies and consider women incapable of managing both. They put a hold on promotions, projects and clients and give a blatant reference to their male counterparts.
It’s time we stop considering pregnant women weak and incapable. Pregnancy does not have to mean the end of a woman’s career. Acceptance towards women has come a long way but it has an even longer way to move forward in order to truly be equal.
To watch: https://youtu.be/rz5rAFAvqCs
10. Share the Load – Women’s Life Matters Too!
Household chores and corporate work life is a difficult balance to maintain. Yet, women in this day and age have been doing it without a single default. Ever wondered how?
This advertisement by Ariel under the banner #ShareTheLoad spoke about how women have been compromising on sleep to compensate for time. Lack of sleep can be extremely dangerous and can cause early signs of ageing. It may also bring with it unwanted health complications.
All of this has an easy solution. If the men and the women in the house learn to work as equals rather than only a single person handling everything; life would be easier for both. There’s no shame in sharing household chores. Workplace equality is all well and good, but gender discrimination will only end when there’s equality at home too.
To watch: https://youtu.be/QAxm23SjHDo
Advertisements don’t have to be boring and repetitive. They don’t need to use comic storylines to captivate an audience. All of these are true and real examples of creativity. They give a strong social message and make valuable comments on our social and cultural atmosphere. Complete gender equality is still a distant dream, but we have to remember that we get closer to achieving it with every tiny step. Make our society equal and beautiful for both men and women. Acceptance is the key, and these advertisements go a long way to reach the masses and create an impact.