The U.K. Government recently launched a campaign carrying the slogan “Stay Home, Save Lives. The new Covid-19 variant is spreading fast.” The campaign was widely shared on social media. On the surface it sounds quite innocent and noble, but the graphic that accompanied the campaign caused a firestorm.
Three scenes showed stay-at-home activities: women cleaning, a woman ironing, and a woman home-schooling children. There was a man in a fourth scene, relaxing with his family on a sofa. The campaign evoked immediate criticism and was withdrawn after going viral on social media where many accused the government of being sexist and reinforcing age-old stereotypes. The government responded by saying the ad did “not reflect” its “view on women”.
Commenting on Instagram, Lorraine Candy, the former editor of The Sunday Times Style Magazine who reported on the ad, along with Glamour magazine, said: “Are there no intelligent, smart women advising the government about this? I am perplexed by the lack of awareness.”
It has been widely reported that the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, particularly working mothers. Dubbed the “shecession,” COVID-19 has not only been harder on working women in general but particularly women of color. This reality seems to have escaped those in the U.K. Government who created and approved the graphic, sending a clear message on who they think should be staying home during the pandemic.