- There were 8 different charities advertised
- There were 11 different charity posters on display
- There were a total of 19 charity posters
- There were 10 women, 4 girls and 2 men pictured in the posters
- Put another way, 9 out of 10 people pictured were women girls
- Where the charities referred to the gender of people they were trying to help, 12 out of 15 (80%) were female
- Where charities pictured the people they wanted to help, 100% were women and girls
- 100% of children referenced were girls (no boys were mentioned)
- Parents were referenced 9 times and 78% (or 7 out of 9) were mums
- Nine people pictured were fundraisers, again 78% (or 7 out of 9) were women
Is charity just for girls?
So what does this tell us about public attitudes towards men, women, boys and girls? Big charities aren't stupid. They know what sells. The top 1,000 charities in the UK raise £11.5 billion every year in voluntary donations. Charity is big, BIG business and big business knows that all of us, men and women, are collectively more tolerant of the harm that happens to men and boys. If you want to raise money, you've more chance of doing it if you tell people women and girls are suffering.
And what message does this send to men and boys? That we are less valued by society, that we are not cared for as much as women, that we are not as vulnerable, that we don't need the help of others, that we are tough and strong and should "man up" and get on with our lives and not expect help when we face problems in life. Is it any wonder that men are less likely to access help and support when they need it, when the constant message that we give to men and boys collectively is that we don't need and don't deserve help and support from others?
I'm not going to pretend that this was a thorough, scientific survey but it has long been my experience that charities favour women and girls in their advertising and this quick count confirmed that suspicion. Here's a bit more information on some of the posters that were on display:
Combat Stress: Pictures the mother of a veteran impacted by combat stress, because it's easier to sympathize with a soldier's mum, that a big, strong male soldier.
Concern: asked us to stop hunger for children like Halime, who they made clear is a girl! Because starving boys can save themselves.
Breast Cancer Campaign: showed three women and a token bloke raising money for a female cancer.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer: ran a poster about a mothers' day card that was never sent because mum died of breast cancer.
The National Brain Appeal: used gender neutral stick people to promote its Pyjama Party fundraiser.
The Alzheimer's Society: used a word based poster to tell a fictional story of a man visiting his daughter and not remembering which stop to get off on the tube:
The RLSB: pictured a blind baby girl, Emma, and her mum and focussed on the feelings that mums feel when their baby girls are diagnosed with blindness.
Tell us what you think. Do you think men and boys are invisible in charity campaigns and does it matter? And next time you on a train, tube or bus, why not do a quick count yourself and tell us what you discover.
Article by Glen Poole author of the book Equality For Men