The UN says women aren't represented well enough in films

22/09/14

Jennifer Lawrence has played Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and Mystique in X-Men.
Image caption Jennifer Lawrence has played Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games and Mystique in X-Men.

Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil, Jennifer Lawrence in the Hunger Games.

All iconic, strong female action heroes.

But they are few and far between according to UN Women, a United Nations group looking at gender equality.

It's been involved in a study which has now criticised the global film industry for not doing enough to represent women in the movies.

Milla Jovovich
Image caption Milla Jovovich has appeared in five Resident Evil films to date.

It said there has not been enough speaking roles for women, sexualisation has been common and women have been completely under-represented in the action and adventure movies.

It found just 23% of speaking characters in that genre were female.

The study looked at films made in 11 countries, including South Korea, the US and India.

Key findings

    • One female visible for every 2.4 men
    • Only 23% of speaking roles in action and adventure films are female
    • 7% of directors are female
    • Only 30.9% of all speaking characters are female.
Source: The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, UN Women and The Rockefeller Foundation

The UK was singled out for doing a better job than some other countries by creating more speaking roles for women.

The project's been led by Oscar winner Geena Davis, the star of films such as Cutthroat Island and The Long Kiss Goodnight.

She said: "The fact is, women are seriously under-represented across nearly all sectors of society around the globe, not just on-screen, but for the most part we're simply not aware of the extent."

The study found that less than a quarter of the fictional on-screen workforce is made up of women.

In addition, male characters outnumbered their female counterparts in roles as lawyers and judges, professors and doctors.

Angelina Jolie
Image caption Angelina Jolie's action roles included Lara Croft in Tomb Raider.
Chloe Moretz
Image caption Chloe Moretz starred as an expletive spouting teenage anti-hero in Kick-Ass

"Females bring more to society than just their appearance," said Stacy L. Smith, the main researcher on the project.

"These results illuminate that globally, we have more than a film problem when it comes to valuing girls and women. We have a human problem."

The study followed a UN speech by Harry Potter actress Emma Watson in which she encouraged more boys and men to fight for equal rights.

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