Press release: UAE launches National Chapter of UN Women-convened advertising alliance to challenge traditional stereotypes in advertising

Date: Monday, November 9, 2020

  • The Unstereotype Alliance’s UAE National Chapter Founding Members include: Advertising Business Group, Dubai Lynx, Etihad Aviation Group, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Omnicom Media Group, Snap Inc., and Unilever.
  • This new coalition of partners will focus on broadening the representation of women and men in non-traditional roles in media and advertising
  • The launch follows recent research that demonstrates the public demand to portray women in increasingly progressive roles in the UAE and the region.

United Arab Emirates, 9 November 2020 - Convened by UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the Unstereotype Alliance today launches its UAE National Chapter with a coalition of partners committed to tackling harmful stereotypes of women and men in media and advertising. The UAE National Chapter will focus its work on broadening the representation of women and men in non-traditional roles.

The Unstereotype Alliance, a thought and action platform that seeks to eradicate harmful gender-based stereotypes in all media and advertising content, launches its UAE National Chapter with a core group of seven national and global companies – Etihad Aviation Group, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Omnicom Media Group, Snap Inc. and Unilever – alongside the Advertising Business Group as the UAE’s leading advertising industry association, and the Dubai Lynx, the premier festival of creativity in the Middle East and North Africa region. The partners have come together to empower women in all their diversity to help create a gender equal world.

The UAE National Chapter represents the first outpost of this global UN Women initiative in the Middle East region, and the sixth National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance, following those in Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Recent research conducted by the Advertising Business Group and Zayed University concluded that the majority of television ads in the Gulf region continue to perpetuate traditional gender stereotypes and do not realistically portray the increasingly progressive role of women in the region. Eighty-five percent of those polled in this study believe that it is the responsibility of brands to depict women and men positively.

UN Women’s Gender Equality Attitudes Study conducted in the UAE finds similar results: Eighty-eight percent of people in the UAE believe that it is essential for society to treat women and men as equals, and over half of people in the UAE believe that the media only portrays women and men in certain traditional roles.

H.E. Noura Al Suwaidi, Director-General of the General Women’s Union, the UAE’s leading entity dedicated to women’s empowerment, offered her enthusiastic support, “The UAE and the General Women’s Union are proud to support the launch of the UAE National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance. As the first country in the Middle East region and the sixth country in the world to host this initiative convened by UN Women, we are honored to be able to contribute our national best practices to ensuring that women are empowered in all aspects of life to achieve their full potential.”

Dr. Mouza Al Shehhi, Director of the UN Women Liaison Office for the GCC, said:

“UN Women is thrilled that the UAE is the first country in the Middle East region to establish a National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance. This speaks to the commitment and progress that the UAE has made on the women’s empowerment agenda, both in setting high standards of women’s inclusion and leadership in both the public and private sector. I have no doubt that this alliance of committed partners will create positive change in the media and advertising industry here in the UAE and contribute to creating a more gender-equal world.” 

Sanjiv Kakkar, Chairman of the Advertising Business Group (ABG) and Executive Vice President of Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine & Belarus, who played a leading role in bringing together companies to form the UAE National Chapter, said:

“As founding members of the UAE Unstereotype Alliance, the ABG & Unilever are committed to using the voice, reach and influence of advertising to empower women and break stereotypes.”

Thea Skelton, Festival Director of Dubai Lynx, said:

“Dubai Lynx is delighted to join as a founding ally in the UAE National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance. Having witnessed first-hand the power and strength of the MENA region’s creativity in recent months, it is imperative to continue to support one another and strive for a community that reflects inclusivity and equality. I look forward to celebrating work in the coming future that consciously represents both the men and women working in MENA’s advertising and media industry.”

Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Vice President, Medical Services and Corporate Social Responsibility at Etihad Aviation Group, said:

“Challenging and breaking down outdated gender-based stereotypes is key to empowering women and having a more inclusive society as a whole. At Etihad, we have always championed women in diverse roles and created opportunities for advancement, and we’re happy to continue this tradition by partnering with the Unstereotype Alliance to influence positive behaviour change in the UAE.”

Ramez Shehadi, Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa at Facebook, said:

“As a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, Facebook is resolutely committed to both embodying and calling for complete gender equality, putting in place principles and values that empower current women in the workplace and inspire millions more from future generations. The launch of the Unstereotype Alliance in the UAE is a critical one, with the role of institutions such as ours to work together, across public and private sectors, to ensure that gender equality, and the steps needed to achieve it in the region, are always front and center. I am incredibly optimistic as to what we can achieve together.”

Lino Cattaruzzi, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Google, said:

“We're pleased to be part of the Unstereotype Alliance in the UAE. Diversity and inclusion are core values at Google and we have an equal role to play internally within our culture and employees, as well as across our products, our users and partners. The advertising and media industry can have a significant impact on shaping perceptions and breaking gender stereotypes and bias. I'm hopeful that with the right initiatives, progress in gender parity can be achieved in the UAE and broader region.” 

Ali Matar, Head of LinkedIn EMEA Emerging Markets, Middle East & Africa, said:

“The Unstereotype Alliance is an important initiative aligned with LinkedIn’s vision to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce, and we are extremely proud to be founding members. It has never been more important for media and advertising to reflect the true diversity of our region and we look forward playing our part in leading change on this issue.”

Elie Khouri, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Omnicom Media Group – MENA, said:

“Since our inception, Omnicom Media Group MENA has been committed to diversity, we have always striven to be a Great Place to Work for ALL talent. In 2017, we launched the UAE Chapter of Omniwomen, an internal initiative that focuses on leadership and mentorship for women, through workshops, thought-leadership and group discussions. Today, we are proud to be a founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance in the UAE, bringing the global perspective and best practices to this region. We believe this will help us and other companies deliver on our pledge to turn the conversation into actionable change. There is a long way to go in achieving gender equality in the Middle East - especially in business - but we are beginning to see noticeable attitude shift.”

Hussein Freijeh, General Manager, MENA of Snap Inc., said:

“Really understanding and addressing the issues around representation of women in the media takes an ongoing effort. As a company that champions personal self-expression and also curates media content seen by millions of people every day, Snap can bring a unique perspective to the Unstereotype Alliance. Together with Alliance partners, we look forward to advancing gender inclusion by tackling harmful stereotypes in the advertising and media sector.”

Notes to Editors

Please contact UN Women for more information: hannah.beswick@unwomen.org

The Unstereotype Alliance

The Unstereotype Alliance seeks to collectively use the advertising industry as a force for good to drive positive change all over the world. Convened by UN Women, the United Nations entity for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment, the Alliance contributes to empowering women in all their diversity and addressing harmful masculinities to help create a gender equal world. Since its launch in 2017, the Unstereotype Alliance has built momentum behind notable achievements such as 'unstereotyped' judging criteria as part of industry award programmes including Cannes Lions and the Dubai Lynx. The Unstereotype Alliance has commissioned original research and developed best practice playbooks and measurement tools to help marketers and agency teams create more progressive unstereotyped communications. 

Members of the new UAE National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance have agreed on the following strategic priority for the UAE: broadening the representation of women and men in non-traditional roles in media and advertising.

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