The negative images of women and girls that pervade the media are sadly nothing new. ”When are we going to get over the idea that it’s shocking that women can do things?” actress and activist Geena Davis asked today at the Social Good Summit. Davis, who founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, in 2004, also works with the United Nations on issues surrounding gender equality as an official partner of UN Women.
“It’s an incredibly important goal, not just for the sake of women, but impacting everything that influences us in society,” Davis said discussing the significance of achieving Millennium Development Goal #3, to promote gender equality and empower women.
World leaders adopted the eight Millenium Development Goals, or MDGs in 2000 and ambitiously set 2015 as the deadline for reaching them. Some of the MDGs are on target, many are not, but their existence has become a global clarion call for a cohesive change. MDG #3 and its goal of gender equality touches every aspect of human development — from alleviating poverty to healthcare to education. “It’s become incredibly important for the the UN to talk about gender equality,” Davis said.
A recent study by her institute found that 81% of the characters in PG-13 movies who hold jobs are male. “Of the females, no scientists, lawyers, no one in the medical profession, business, politics,” Davis went down the list. “The more hours of TV girls watch the fewer options she has in life. Boys pick this up too that girls can’t do what boys do.”
Those are pretty grim numbers, and they resonate worldwide. Davis told the story of a recent visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where women asked her why the US exports “these horrible TV shows around the world.”
“Eighty percent of media consumed worldwide is created in the US, so we are the ones who are exporting the negative portrayal of women around the world,” Davis explained. “We really are helping to support the idea that women are not as important as men…The UN is doing so much work – there are so many opportunities to educate girls, but if the message is that women are not equal it’s tearing down other efforts.”
The Social Good Summit continues through Thursday, so stay tuned for more Care2 coverage.
Photo courtesy of UN Foundation