Remarks by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, at the Launch of Mexico National Chapter of the Unstereotype Alliance

Eradicating stereotypes - one of the most destructive barriers to progress in all societies


[As delivered]

I’d like to greet both the established and the new members of the Unstereotype Alliance. Thank you so much to the founding members and to Rosie Hawkins for a very insightful presentation on the Mexico results of the Gender Equality Attitudes Study.

We welcome the Mexico chapter. It is lovely that your launch is happening at the same time as the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico. We will forever remember you as one of the chapters that made the Forum in Mexico so exciting.

Four years ago, when we founded the Unstereotype Alliance, we were very clear that we were entering a very complex space, but that we were also dealing with very powerful actors in this space. Let’s face it, who knows how to change attitudes and behaviours more than you do? None of us [in the UN] have the experience and the training to do that.

What stops gender equality from evolving in the right direction in many countries? It is norms. It is attitudes. It is stereotypes. We discovered that fact in 2015, when we were evaluating why the Beijing Platform for Action was so slow in having an impact in different countries. This is when we began to look for you, because we thought we needed you in our stable to assist us. You are a really valued partner and member of UN Women’s family because of your unique skills to assist us in this one area that is particularly difficult.

We were also clear that we could not do a ‘one size fits all’ approach in the way we identify chapters because you deal with different stereotypes in the each of the countries that you work in. We also made a strategic choice of having a chapter-led growth model and expansion programme so that you can bring the flavour of your country. This makes the total Unstereotype Alliance family a truly global one, reflective of the different tendencies of the world.

This strategic choice is starting to pay some dividends because we have grown, and the various chapters like the intermixing that comes with growth. We’ve increased 7-fold, from 26 founding members to a total membership currently at 173 companies and organizations, including eight national chapters on five continents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how fragile the gains women and girls have made can be. I think the study has confirmed that. This past year we saw how gender stereotypes, including ‘traditional’ household gender roles, are easily reasserted when crisis strikes.

We know for sure, right now, that when we are talking about building back better and achieving decent work for women, the stereotype that suggests that women are not more suitable for work than men has to change. Otherwise, women will forever be the ones who are the face of poverty. That is on you to help us change those views and those stereotypes about women.

As we look ahead, I am delighted to announce that the Unstereotype Alliance commits to launching a movement of collective action at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris. I am so pleased that we are announcing this good news here. This means that we are trying to make you work together so that, even in your messaging, you are stronger together.

In the global campaign launched in June, the Unstereotype Alliance will mobilize public action against all harmful stereotypes. Some of these harmful stereotypes actually kill. Some of the harmful stereotypes force girls to marry men who are old enough to be their grandfathers. So, this is a really important intervention in society.

By 2025, the Alliance and each of its national chapters will work not just with the advertising industry in each market, but with young people, civil society and governments across the Generation Equality Action Coalitions.These young leaders, in particular, are amazing in their role and in their insight into what is happening in society. Together you will be able to engage an estimated 3 billion people with the unstereotype message.

Together, we will fight to eradicate stereotypes from the ground up, because we understand that they represent one of the most destructive barriers to progress in all societies.

We look forward to seeing all our chapters in Paris and we welcome our newest member – Unstereotype Alliance Mexico.

Ladies and gentlemen, at this historic moment of the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico, where we mark 25 years of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, I wish to formally announce the formation of the Unstereotype Alliance Mexican Chapter.

As you can see from the Gender Equality Attitudes study, you are needed. You have a role to play. We welcome the official launch and the members that it will add to us and we wish you good luck. You will be the eighth global chapter and the second in the Latin America region.

The importance of the Mexico market cannot be overstated. Mexico’s advertising expenditure is estimated to grow to USD 4.63 billion by 2024 – second after Brazil as Latin America's largest ad market. Our goal is to make sure that you enhance the portrayal of both men and women in the light in which they want to be portrayed, and in the light in which we want to see the future.

As I conclude, I wish to let you know that Generation Equality will rely on you to guard against Generation Equality also portraying stereotypes. You can also watch over us to make sure that we stay the course.

Thank you.