Advertising significantly influences societal perceptions, especially concerning gender roles and expectations. Children and adolescents, immersed in digital media, absorb messages that shape their views on what behaviors and roles are appropriate for different genders. Research, including a comprehensive study by UNICEF and the Geena Davis Institute, reveals that advertisements not only reflect but also reinforce gender stereotypes, potentially affecting gender socialization and contributing to violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The study conducted in Mexico, analyzing 400 advertisements, found a prevalent reinforcement of traditional gender roles. Women are often depicted as caregivers and objects of desire, while men are shown as workers or breadwinners. Notably, the ads subtly endorse these roles, perpetuating a cycle where deviations from these norms could lead to justifications for violence.

Key findings highlight the presence of gendered norms and stereotypes, with a lack of diversity in representation concerning age, race, body size, and sexual orientation. Recommendations for change focus on creating content that promotes human rights and challenges stereotypes. Advertisers are urged to include diverse and positive depictions of all genders, reflecting a variety of roles and settings, and to avoid content promoting violence.

For policymakers and international bodies, the call to action includes expanding adolescent participation in community life, developing gender- and age-sensitive advertising standards, and investing in research to further understand the media’s impact on gender norms and inequality.

The toolkit emphasizes the necessity for a multi-faceted approach in addressing gender stereotypes in advertising, aiming to foster a more inclusive and equitable media landscape that champions human rights and combats gender-based violence.