Education innovations not only have a role in building children’s literacy and numeracy skills, but also in changing the ways that girls and boys are typically portrayed in the media. Research by the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media has found that children’s media significantly under-represents female characters, especially among ‘hero’ characters and those who work to earn a living or support their families.
This has a strong eff etc on girls’ self worth and both genders’ notions of gender roles and cultural norms. HDIF grantee Ubongo is a non-profit social enterprise that creates ‘edutainment’ programmes for children. Originally launched in Tanzania and now broadcast across other parts of East Africa and West Africa, their cartoons have a high representation of female characters, showing young girls (and female animals) who are intelligent, curious, active, friendly and not subservient to boys or men.
They show boy characters (and male animals) who treat girls equally, engage in domestic and household work, and aren’t afraid to cry or show their emotions. As part of their research, Ubongo collect gender disaggregated data and perform analyses to ensure that girls are being reached and receiving the full benefit t of their programmes.