DO you recall those ads where a woman is seen either in the kitchen or doing the laundry? Of course, you do! Ad campaigns for products that have anything to do with household chores inevitably feature, er, women.

Be it a dish wash soap or a fairness cream, stereotypical characters are all too familiar – the ads mirror the society we live in. Being one of the most influenceable mediums, they also sadly endorse gender roles.

But in recent times, acknowledging the wave of change, a few campaigns by well-known brands seem to getting some things right about gender equality. Here are five ads that took a step in the right direction in the past year.

1. Vicks – Generations of care #TouchOfCare

In this Vicks short, we see a young girl talking about her mother: her loving care, the warmth of her hug, her protective nature. But, as the camera pans to show the mother sitting next to her on the bus, we see Gauri Sawant, a trans woman.

A true story, Gauri adopted orphaned Gayathri when she was too young to even understand loss and brought her up as her own in a society where transgenders have been historically ostracised and are seen as having no role to play in parenting.

In just a few minutes, the ad breaks away from gendered roles, busts the myth that transgenders can’t be parents and gives a new ray of hope to the community.

The scene where, fighting tears, Gauri walks away after dropping her daughter at the school has won hearts across the country – in empathy with a mother’s sadness of being parted from her child.

2. Samsung – We care for the girl child

The birth of a daughter is still not a joyous occasion in India, or not quite as joyous as the birth of a son.

In this ad, we see a father referring to his third  child, a daughter, as a son and bringing her up as a boy. She uses that to her advantage and slowly spreads her wings.

She studies and attends Samsung Technical School but her abilities are still seen through the lens of sexism. Until one day, at a wedding, when there is a power failure and she fixes the generator, a job definitely not seen as a woman’s. Watching this her uncles tell her father that he was right – he has three sons.

To which the father says no, he has two sons and one lovely daughter. The acknowledgment might not be the big change we are looking for but it’s a step away from patriarchal mindsets.

3. WEvolve: Let the girls be by ELLE India

How many times have you whispered to a girlfriend that her bra strap is visible? How many of you women out there adjust your clothes to not show cleavage or little less leg? It has become second nature for women to conform to the do’s and don’ts without even realising that they are giving in.

In this Elle ad a girl is seen telling her friend to pull up her top as the waiter comes to their table, another girl grabs a shawl to cover herself before opening the door, while one girl is conscious about how she is sitting, another worries about how she looks. In the second part, we see all these women just being who they are and embracing themselves for it.

This ad highlights how women have become accustomed to looking at themselves through the eyes of the society and encourages them to break free from this deep-rooted social conditioning and just be themselves.

4. Comfort After Wash – A small step can make a big difference

Children are often conditioned to think of gender roles in a certain way. Even in their childish games, they enact what they see in their homes: wife doing the household chores, husband coming home from work and glued to the TV. Such perceptions at a formative age play a crucial role in moulding mindsets.

This Comfort ad focuses on the need to change those gender stereotypes. We see a mother doing laundry and the son telling his sister to learn how to do it as it would be useful in the future. Hearing that, the mother calls the son and makes him help her out, then tells him it is something he should learn too – a quick lesson in gender equality.

5. My First Women’s Day by UrbanClap

There is an air of mystery in this ad by UrbanClap. A mother busy sending out invitations and preparing to celebrate her daughter’s first Women’s Day. But, this leaves her neighbour baffled as they didn’t know she had a daughter. In the end, when she walks in everyone is shocked. Her mother introduces Vaishali, earlier known as Vikram, her son.

When the neighbours embrace her and you almost want to believe that acceptance can be this easy. It’s refreshing to see a positive, happy ad campaign about a sex change operation, especially for those who struggle with their gender identity all their lives. Changing attitudes in society, as the ad says, begins at home.

Ads are a powerful way to convey a message and address important issues that are also the focus of many NGOs. To explore more about this:

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