I can do it

Date: January 1, 1970
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This advert encourages women to vote in the 2008 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe. It shows a young woman holding a baby.

The advert be used to
  • Show where women continue to be associated with their traditional gender roles of child bearing.
  • Show instances where there are subtle stereotypes
  • Encourage discussion on women and politics.
  • Discuss voter education for women
Trainers Notes:
The subtle question is that women can vote for women leaders, as they will represent their needs. However, this can also be taken as encouraging women to vote for whichever leaders will best represent them.
The image of the woman holding the baby suggests that women are compassionate people who are loving and caring. While in some respects this may be considered a stereotypical image, it also recognises that women continue to play the majority of care-giving roles and this represents a particular community that needs to be represented in political domains. The smile on the woman’s face shows that she is confident and this is further emphasised by the words “I can do it.” One can however posit that the woman is saying that although I am a mother and have a child, I can also be a leader. It is challenging the thinking that women cannot be leaders. In this instance the advert can be interpreted to mean that woman care for a nation.
The advert is showing that women are capable of being leaders. This is reinforced by the use of the words, ‘Women can do it’. It portrays women as people who have people’s needs at their heart and are capable of having diverse roles. The advert encourages women to take advantage of the fact that they are the majority.
Gender roles are dynamic and this should be made visible in the advertisements. There are now female doctors, pilots, engineers, which means there are more women performing roles which were previously the domain for men. While this is now the trend, very few advertisements depict this trend. Advertisements continue to reinforce subtle stereotypes mainly by associating both men and women with certain products. With reference to the advertisement being analysed, women are associated with child bearing.
Discussion Questions
  • Why is the woman holding a baby? What value does that add to the advert?
  • Why are there few female leaders yet they are the majority. Why are there few women in politics?
  • Is it important to conduct voter education specifically designed for women? Why?
  • How can women being encouraged to become active in politics.
Training exercises 
  • Ask participants to get a newspaper each and ask them to identify advertisements which are gender aware and gender blind.
  • Take one advert and ask participants to analyse it and see if they agree on what they think the advert is trying to portray.
  • Ask participants to break into groups. Ask them to identify advertisements which challenge stereotypes and those that perpetuate stereotypes.
  • Conduct a survey amongst women and men. Do they feel government represents their needs.
  • Design voter education campaign to encourage voters to consider gender equality when they vote.

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