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Women’s Day: breaking free from commodity female to femvertising

March 8th is traditionally recognised as Women’s day. However, the day is not just a time for celebration. Its goal is to reflect on past achievements, by also recognising the long journey that has to still be undergone to finally arrive at gender equality.

In the world of communication, advertising, but also marketing, women’s representation has often been the matter of debate. In the past, they were depicted in traditional “feminine” roles, such as mothers, wives and objects of sexual desire. The concept of “commodity female” refers to the act of reducing women to simple clichés who, beyond reinforcing gender stereotypes, negatively affects women’s self esteem, by limiting their opportunities and increasing the gender gap.

However, people are becoming ever more aware of this misogynistic trend. A movement known as “femvertising” is becoming increasingly popular. It’s communication strategy that promotes a more authentic and positive representation of women in advertising campaigns, it supports female empowerment, equal opportunities and inclusiveness. The winning campaigns are evaluated based on criteria such as the authenticity of the representations of women, as well as the social impact of the campaigns themselves.

Great women communicators in the past…

From historiacal figures to current icons. Over the course of millennia, many women have distinguished themselves for their skillful use of language, promoting powerful massages of courage and hope.

Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, used her diplomatic and communicative prowess to maintain power and protect the interests of her Country. She knew many languages, negotiated with foreign leaders with political rhetoric. She knew how to present herself and her kingdom in a favourable way through public speeches and ceremonies. Her mythical image, synonymous with fashion, intrigue and female power, has been subject of various works of literature, theatre and cinema. Her skill in communicating and shaping her image has played a large part in her eternal fame as one of the most iconic figures in ancient history.

In the world of literature and social activism, Virginia Woolf, influential British novelist, essayist and activist of the XX century, managed to communicate the importance of looking at other people’s perspectives through her characters and experiences. Her books tackle universal themes of love, loss, identity and the human condition with profound tact and sensibility. At the same time, she communicated her opinions and worries tied to social issues of her time. From the role of women in society, to class inequality. Her harsh criticism of society has made her voice one of the most influential in the cultural and political debate.

… and in the present

In the current age, Oprah Winfrey is among the most influential people due to her innovations in television journalism through engaging and profound interviews. Passionate supporter of personal growth and wellbeing, Oprah has used her talk show “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to promote the importance of self esteem and personal empowerment. Her platform has had a significant impact on people. It’s a space in which she has highlighted her activism and her commitment to social issues, like education, health and women’s rights.

The need to communicate is a priority to new generations, who are making their voices heard more and more in defence of what they believe in. Greta Thunberg is one of the most influential figures in the world of activism. Her speech at the “UN climate action summit in New York” in 2019 denounced world leaders for their lack of action and went viral around the world. She spoke of broken dreams, stolen childhood and strongly critised those who should have done someting to save the planet.

Change can come from whoever has the courage to speak up, this is why on March 8th we don’t simply throw a party. Today, in the present, we are standing on on shoulders of giants. Women who have dared to challenge stereotypes and fight for social justice and equality. The notion of “commodity female”, however, hasn’t completely disappeared, but more and more people are fighting back in the name of a more inclusive future embracing “femvertising”.

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