Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

Indian ads further gender stereotypes


“Gender Bias and Inclusion In Advertising In India” report was recently released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media (GDI).


GS-II: Social Justice (Issues Related to Women), GS-I: Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Gender Equality in India
  2. Highlights of the report
  3. Way forwards suggested by the report
  4. Recently in news: SC on gender stereotypical comments

Gender Equality in India

  • Gender equality in India has made gains as a result of legislative and policy measures, social-protection schemes for girls and adolescents and gender sensitive budgets over past years.
  • Some Indian Initiatives Related to Girls: Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme, Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG), Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, etc.
  • India has attained gender parity in primary enrolment and boosted female literacy from 54% (2001) to 66% (2011).
  • India ranks 108th out of 153 countries in the global gender inequality index in 2020, an increase since 2015 when it was ranked 130th out of 155 countries.
  • India is among one of the few countries where under-5 mortality rates among girls is higher than boys.
  • Gender-based discrimination and normalization of violence continues to be a challenge. Many women face overlapping social, emotional, physical, economic, cultural and caste related deprivations.
  • Adolescent girls face vulnerabilities, including poor nutritional status, increased burden of care, early marriage and early pregnancy, and issues related to reproductive health and empowerment while 56% are anemic.

Highlights of the report

  • Male characters are more likely to be shown making decisions about their future than female characters (7.3% compared with 4.8%), the latter are twice as likely to be shown making household decisions than male characters (4.9% compared with 2.0%).
  • Two-thirds of female characters (66.9%) in Indian ads have light or medium-light skin tones—a higher percentage than male characters (52.1%). This is problematic because this advances the discriminatory notion that light skin tones are more attractive.
  • Female characters are nine times more likely to be shown as “stunning/very attractive” than male characters (5.9% compared with 0.6%). Female characters are also invariably thin, but male characters appear with a variety of body sizes in Indian advertising.
  • Sexual objectification has serious consequences in the real world. The more girls and women internalize the idea that their primary value comes from being a sex object, the higher their rates of depression, body hatred and shame, eating disorders, and a host of other personal impacts.

The report on Gender and Prominence

  • While girls and women have a strong presence in Indian advertising, they are mostly reinforcing traditional gender roles by selling domestic and beauty products to female consumers.
  • This is problematic because of the intergenerational transfer of norms to children, including a lack of empowering role models for men undertaking domestic work in the home and women working in the paid workforce.
  • The research has shown that while ads in India are superior to global benchmarks insofar as girls and women have parity of representation in terms of screen and speaking time, their portrayal is problematic as they further gender stereotypes.

Way forwards suggested by the report

  • Establish guidelines for advertising with benchmarks for equitable representation for girls and women and promoting positive gender norms, including around leadership and body attitudes.
  • Establish skin color guidelines and caste/class guidelines.
  • Promote diverse templates of beauty rather than regressive beauty norms of women and girls being only fair, thin, etc.
  • Advocate with advertisers to see value add in diversifying representation in gender, skin tone, and caste/class benchmarks to help promote brand equity and expand the consumer base.
  • Content Creators need to be more sensitive and aware towards gender representation.   

Recently in news: SC on courts making gender stereotypical comments

  • The Supreme Court forbade judges from making gender stereotypical comments like “’good women are sexually chaste”, women who drink and smoke ‘ask’ for sexual advances or presume that a sexually active woman consented to rape while hearing cases of sexual offence.
  • The SC said that judgments and orders continue to reflect “entrenched paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes” even after 70 years as a Republic.
  • A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a judicial system that judges the conduct of a woman from a masculine point of view.
  • SC also said that the law does not support a scenario where a victim can potentially be traumatised many times over and be led to accept or condone a serious offence.
  • Even one such insensitive judgment adversely reflects upon the entire judiciary undermining the guarantee to fair justice to all.

-Source: The Hindu

November 2023