• Publish Date: Jun 20, 2017

Some of the world’s biggest advertisers have joined forces with the United Nations to banish gender stereotypes from ads across the globe.

The group, which includes Facebook, Google, Mars, Microsoft and advertising giant WPP, launched the Unstereotype Alliance on Wednesday to combat “the widespread prevalence of stereotypes that are often perpetuated through advertising”.

The alliance aims to affect positive cultural change by using advertising to spread "realistic, non-biased portrayals of women and men".

“Stereotypes reflect deep-rooted ideas of femininity and masculinity,” Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of UN Women said ahead of the group’s inaugural event in Cannes on Thursday.

“Negative, diminished conceptions of women and girls are one of the greatest barriers for gender equality and we need to tackle and change those images wherever they appear. Advertising is a particularly powerful driver to change perceptions and impact social norms,” she said.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer of Unilever, which is co-convening the event with UN Women, said progress had already been made in the industry but admitted this was not enough.

The group’s first session will set out to define its priority commitments, set the vision and establish key strategic priorities.

UN Women said it works to disrupt stereotypes and engage diverse constituencies on gender equality. These groups include news media, men and boys, youth and faith-based leaders.