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Only 17 Out of 80 Diwali Ads in 2018 Showed Women in Non-Stereotypical Roles, Study Finds

The study was published by Engendered recently before being shared on Twitter by the women's' rights group Feminism in India. The latter has called for a change in the way Indians create advertisements by misrepresenting gender roles.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:December 6, 2018, 5:29 PM IST
Only 17 Out of 80 Diwali Ads in 2018 Showed Women in Non-Stereotypical Roles, Study Finds

A new study has found that despite an increase in the number of women making purchases and influencing consumer decisions, only 21 percent of advertisements this Diwali represented women as independent, high-earning individuals.

According to research conducted by Engendered, only 17 out of 80 advertisements released this Diwali showed women in non-stereotypical roles. The rest either represented them as domestic, performing household chores, cooking and serving food and receiving gifts from male members of their family or otherwise.

Meanwhile, men continued to be depicted as high earners, driving expensive cars, purchasing expensive gifts (often for their wives or sisters) and seemingly in control of purchase.

This, despite the fact that more and more women are participating in decisions related to making purchases. A study conducted by Accenture among rural women living across 10 states in India found that 37 percent rural women interviewed made purchase decisions on their own. The number went up to 40 in case of working women. It also found the 67 percent women had bought branded products.

The bias against women in advertisements spanned categories and products. For example, even though the number of women drivers has almost doubled from six percent to 10-12 percent in the past five years, only two out of eleven auto ads depicted women actually buing or driving a car. Mostly, it was men who drove the cars with women only existing as co-passengers in the ad, if at all.

In advertisements about home appliances, men were depicted as posing with the products whereas the women were actually using it to cook or serve food. And in jewellery ads, it was usually a male character gifting a woman relation gold or other expensive jewellery.

The study was published on Campaign India recently before being shared on Twitter by the womens' rights group Feminism in India. The latter has called for a change in the way Indians create advertisements by misrepresenting gender roles. According to a video it shared on Twitter, pop culture and media representations have an intrinsic role to play in shaping perceptions of gender roles and identities. Many on social media agreed that it was finally time to own up to past follies and start creating content which is more meaningful and reflective of the realities of women in India.

While the past decade has seen a shift toward women-centric content, much of pop culture and popular representations continue to be skewed toward men and tend to show women as financially dependent. While those realities are slowly reflecting a change, advertisements need to do more to ensure the positive trend grows in the coming years.

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