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Charity highlights plight of girls with ad visible only to females

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 24 Feb 2012 10:30 GMT
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At first glance, it looks like every other London bus stop.

Instead, one bus shelter in one of London’s most popular locations features a most unusual bit of advertising: an interactive billboard especially designed to play only to women and girls.

Called “Choices for Girls,” the 40-second advert - launched Feb. 22 by charity Plan UK – aims to sensitize public awareness of the plight of girls in developing countries, many of whom lack opportunities on a daily basis due to discrimination and poverty.

The billboard - located on Oxford Street, opposite the main entrance to Selfridges department store - incorporates a camera that recognizes the gender of the viewer by analysing facial features, such as eyes and length of jaw. It will play the ad only to females.

Plan said the technology, which cost £30,000 and is activated only when the viewer touches the screen, guesses gender correctly 90 percent of the time.

The ad is part of Plan’s “Because I am Girl” campaign, through which the charity aims to reach 4 million of the world’s poorest girls by 2016. The goal is to give them access to education and thus the opportunity to choose for themselves what to do in their lives.

In order to make them more aware of gender discrimination, males won’t be able to see the full content of the advert, which shows the stories of three 13-year-old girls—Jasmine from the UK; Bintou from  Mali and Sur from Thailand

The message “Today you don’t have a choice…” appears on the screen when a guy tries to access the ad.

"Plan's Because I am a Girl campaign works with women and men, girls and boys, to challenge the discrimination that girls face as a result of their gender," Plan UK CEO Marie Staunton said in a statement.

“If girls like Bintou and Sur had the same choices as girls like Jasmine in the UK they’d be more likely to stay in school and have greater choice and opportunity in the future,” she said.

The ad will be available until March 7.

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