‘Carpenter.’ That was my genuine, enthusiastic answer to the classic question that every elementary school student is asked, but it was always met by laughter from the teacher, as if I was telling a joke. I went home to my mom, who explained how the profession I chose was unsuitable for women, and only men could do such work.

I am fairly certain there are countless stories like mine. Many girls dream of being boxers, rally drivers, electricians, automotive mechanics, and many other ‘untraditional’ professions. But they can’t do more than dream because it’s against society’s norms.

With time and openness to greater possibilities, things improved regarding gender equality in the Arab region. Yet, studies show a gap between female labour force participation rates and that of males in certain professions, and this gender gap leads to many talents and opportunities being lost.

UN WOMEN for gender equality and female empowerment wanted to launch an awareness campaign, encouraging society to break the perception that women can’t work in any profession they choose. 

Thinking of it from a creative design perspective, the insight was how the male form takes over the inclusive speech in the Arabic language, especially in job ads.

For example, the usual form is DOCTOR WANTED- Doctor is used in male form, although the ad is directed at both men and women.  

From here, as a global team from the House of Communication in Munich and Dubai, we wanted to create a symbol and add it to every male-formed job title in job ads. People will then see these teaser ads LinkedIn to certain platforms where we have our full campaign communication.

To promote women’s economic empowerment in the Arab states, UN Women organized a webinar on the role of media and advertising. Together with my colleague Natalie Shardan, MD of Serviceplan, I had the chance to talk about the ALL-GENDER campaign, discuss the situation of gender equality at work, and state our take on gender inequalities:

“Jobs have no gender, so why should job advertisements address only half of the population? With our latest campaign, we want to highlight that inclusiveness should be promoted in the workplace from the recruitment phase.”

UN Women Arabic | Twitter

The discussed topics and information were up-and-coming in terms of supporting women at work by many media entities in the Arab region. And obviously, there is a massive interest in highlighting inclusivity as much as possible. The campaign is still in its first phase. The next challenge is to get as many entities as possible to adopt this symbol and use it in their job ads. To make this process even easier for everyone, we created an All-Gender font that can be easily downloaded and used. Seeing the emblem online will prove that this initiative succeeded in revealing that jobs like truck driver, carpenter, firefighter, or even CEO are not male-exclusive anymore.

Natalie Shardan and Rana Ahmad taking part at the UN WOMEN webinar | March 2022

This is just the beginning of something big. Together with UN WOMEN, more milestones can be expected, such as the release of a powerful manifesto and the collaboration with influencers for targeted editorials. With all of that, we want to encourage girls and boys alike to actually start their professional lives in whatever direction they are dreaming of.

While still pursuing the carpentry profession on a smaller scale with starting my own handiwork projects at home, I am more than grateful to contribute, as part of the Serviceplan Group team, to the global issue of diversity and inclusion. Through our work, every day we see how bringing together diverging mindsets, skills, and cultural imprints in one common project is by far the most effective way of fostering true creativity and enabling major breakthroughs. We want to share this spirit of “Strength by Diversity“, with our clients, as we strongly believe that respecting every human-being, overcoming all forms of systematic exclusion, and unlocking the full potential of every talent gives companies and individuals the inner strength, resilience, and innovative energy it takes to overcome the challenges of highly globalized, rapidly changing markets and local issues.

Together with UN WOMEN and the ALL-GENDER-SIGN, we are fighting for our shared mission of making this world we live in an equal, diversified one – starting with a girl’s dream profession and her teacher’s encouraging reaction to it.

Author: Rana Ahmad, Senior Copywriter Serviceplan Experience