Gender equality for women and girls cannot be achieved in East Asia and the Pacific without dismantling stereotypes in media, marketing in advertising

Introductory Brief

Portrait of a 10 year old girl at school holding hands with her friends


Across cultures and societies, people face pressure to conform to gender roles and stereotypes portrayed in media, marketing and advertising. These stereotypes can leave people feeling excluded, unworthy, inadequate, and invisible. Narratives can entrench harmful gender norms, roles, and behaviours, and have a disproportional impact on women and girls. They contribute to shaping different pathways, driven by gender stereotypes – in the family, in schools, at work and in the broader economy – through the different stages of life. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing gender inequalities, with increases in gender-based violence, deepened inequalities in learning for girls and young women, and escalating economic problems disproportionately affecting women and girls. Deeply entrenched gender norms keep women in traditional roles, carrying out the majority of care work in their families, which impacts their ability to access paid employment. Prevalent gender biases impede women’s equal access to finance and markets, resulting in women missing opportunities to equitably participate in the economy.  

Stakeholders, including government policy makers and regulators, industry associations as well as businesses have a responsibility and an opportunity to collaborate to use the power of media, marketing and advertising as a force for good in challenging harmful gender norms and gender stereotypes to advance gender equality. They need to consider the entire ecosystem, understand the challenges, and dismantle the barriers to achieving gender equality across their value chains. This may include advertising messaging, gender parity in leadership, inclusive workplaces and marketplaces with products designed, produced, sold, marketed and advertised in ways that do not entrench harmful gender stereotypes.  

This introductory brief presents key insights and evidence on how gender equality is impacted by media, marketing and advertising, supporting the case for businesses and stakeholders – including policy makers, industry aggregators, civil society and children – to foster a multi-stakeholder collaboration to dismantle stereotypes and to drive progressive gender and marketing action in Asia-Pacific.  

Cover of UNICEF-UN Women Introductory Brief on gender equality for women and girls

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