Gender equality posters launched ahead of British vote

The interactive digital election campaign posters were launched on Tuesday on social media sites

Nabila Pathan
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As the election campaign heats up in the UK and Britons gear up to vote, advertising execs have launched a digital poster campaign that asks politicians to take on the “bad business” of gender inequality and at the helm of the project is British Muslim 33-year-old Anita Nayyar.

The digital election campaign posters, launched on Tuesday on social media sites, are asking viewers to tweet at ministers if they want to see an end to the “#badbusiness” of inequality. The digital posters enable viewers to interact and contrast the practice of gender inequality in the UK today with “#goodbusiness” arguments of those businesses who don’t discriminate.

Nayyar, founder of the “Equality Movement,” has brought together a team of 22 professionals over the past four months from a range of brand, advertising, insight and PR agencies.

“Three of us set this up really. Whilst I initiated the idea, it had been bubbling under for all three of us, including myself, Anna Peters from brand agency Landor and Juliet Pascal, MD of market research agency Incling.

“We’ve been working in the branding, insight and advertising industry for some years and reflected on the fact that we use our talents to sell the most obscure products that no one has heard of and make them into products that everyone ‘gets’.

“We thought ‘well, we have the tools of the ultimate trade of persuasion, why not use them for social good?’ So, the Equality Movement was born.”

Getting voters involved

In January this year, the Equality Movement launched an online forum for British male and female voters.

They asked members about a series of issues from whether they feel equal in the workplace in 2015 to what they think of becoming a parent in modern day Britain.

“We chose the issues based upon what we knew was polling high. The point of the forum was really to hear about the experiences behind the numbers in the polls.”

Anita goes on to explain how the posters launched today have been inspired by the conversations on the online forum.

“In our three months of conversation, one thing became very clear: employers have a huge role to play in making or breaking a gender equal world. The biggest shock for me was when we launched the conversation ‘Is the workplace good to mothers in 2015?’”

A number of people did not answer on the forum but spoke to Nayyar via her private inbox, she says.

“Of 90 members, three told me about their dismissal when they were pregnant on private message, and a handful of others shared their experience on the forum itself. Some of these stories were traumatic; one woman had a miscarriage and was then dismissed by an employer who feared her getting pregnant again. This contrasted with the good stories to make a stark comparison; a woman from the Army spoke about a great experience where her employer offered a re-introduction program to get her back into the swing of things.”

That was what seeded the final campaign “#BadBusiness,” Nayyar added.

Building up to making a change

Before entering the creative industry, she worked for five years with mostly Muslim women and youth in the arena of community building. Speaking to Al Arabiya News, Nayyar explains how her previous post as a policy adviser on Muslim Women with a mandate to improve the social and economic wellbeing of Muslim women in the UK has contributed to her current project.

“I was at the government department for communities and local government for just over two years where I worked with the then Secretary of State Hazel Blears MP as her policy adviser on Muslim Women. I ran a group called the National Muslim Women’s Advisory Group, a group of influential British Muslim women who created projects for positive change over the three year period they were in existence and advised the government on policy concerning Muslim women.

“Working with Muslim women in a political environment helped me see the potential for change and fuelled my passion to make it happen. It is great to be in a position where I can now leverage my current contacts in the advertising industry, an industry that is all about making itself heard, with the people I know in the political world, an industry that has the potential to make lives better.”

The aim of the online poster campaign is to raise a series of equality issues in business in the run up to the elections, from discrimination faced by parents to the gender pay gap. With one in five men fearing the workplace repercussions of taking up shared parental leave and one in five women still facing sexism in the workplace, the issues chosen will resonate with a large number of working voters.

Chasing equality

The Equality Movement intend to launch all three posters over the course of the next month to target different gender equality issues that coincide with politically relevant dates in the run up to the UK elections.

The first poster launches in a week when new shared parental leave rules goes live in the UK. It contrasts the opportunities offered to businesses by the 86% of men wanting to take up leave with a world in which 25% of men say their employers would be actively opposed to them taking leave.

Their next posters are timed to coincide with the final leadership debates and will launch on the 16th April and 30th April respectively.

Excited by the month ahead, Anita Nayyar is looking forward to making “a noise” through her poster campaign launch.

“We know this issue affects a lot of people and that people find it difficult to talk about it for fear that they will be branded a feminist... but a ‘brand problem’ is right up our street!”

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