The UAE's Advertising Business Group (ABG) recently made a significant step towards addressing the portrayal of gender in advertising by releasing its first Ethical Guidelines for Gender Portrayal in Advertising and Marketing Communication. According to ABG, it aims to use advertising to advance gender equality and women empowerment in the UAE by providing guidance to address unconscious biases and avoid reinforcing harmful stereotypes.
The ABG's ten guidelines address three main themes -- stereotypical roles, stereotypical characteristics, and stereotypical appearances -- and how these themes affect those it considers to be members of vulnerable groups, including children. In addition, the guidelines feature not only "guiding principles" that help to shed more light on each guideline but also suggestions of what types portrayals advertisers are encouraged to show. For instance, one guideline encourages advertisers to show men as also successful at housework and childcare.
The Ethical Guidelines for Gender Portrayal in Advertising and Marketing Communication in UAE are as follows:
- Ads should avoid reinforcing that particular roles are only the responsibility of a specific gender.
- Avoid contrasting male and female stereotypical roles or characteristics to pronounce one better than the other.
- Avoid depicting a man or woman failing to achieve any daily task due to a gender related limitation.
- Ads should avoid depicting a woman’s happiness or success in gender stereotypical roles as based purely on others’ approval.
- Ads should avoid belittling any gender for showing emotional vulnerability or sensitivity.
- Ads should avoid belittling men for carrying out roles or tasks that are stereotypically seen associated with the female gender.
- Avoid ads which imply that: (i) conforming to an idealized gender-stereotypical appearance (e.g, body shape) is necessary for social or romantic success or emotional wellbeing are to be avoided; or (ii) prioritizing appearance over all other qualities is necessary for acceptance from peers.
- Avoid ads aimed at young mothers that suggest that looking attractive or keeping the house pristine is a priority over other factors such as emotional well being.
- Avoid reinforcing perception via contrast of what children can or cannot be/do, because of their gender.
- Ads should not explicitly depict children of a specific gender being excluded from or be dismissive of an activity.
"ABG will be a key driver of cultural change inspiring gender equality while balancing traditions and cultural sensitivities with progressive communication in the UAE"