The ‘Not There’ Campaign Shows What a World Without Women Looks Like

On International Women’s Day, there’s something seriously missing from magazine covers, billboards, and advertisements.
An activist advocates for legal abortion as part of International Women’s Day in São Paulo, Brazil, on March 8. (Photo: Nelson Almeida/Getty Images)
Mar 8, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

When it comes to gender equality, women simply aren’t there yet. That’s the message of the new “Not There” campaign, launched Sunday in support of the Clinton Foundation’s No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project, an initiative started by Hillary Clinton and her daughter, Chelsea, to improve women and girls’ participation around the world.

The campaign has attracted major supporters, including fashion designer Kate Spade and the brand Beats by Dre. Magazines Glamour, Allure, and Vogue blanked out women’s faces on their websites and advertisements. Vogue created a slideshow depicting what eight of its iconic magazine covers would look like without women. Cindy Crawford is conspicuously missing from an embrace with Richard Gere; Giselle Bündchen is noticeably absent from a shot with George Clooney; Rihanna, Penélope Cruz, and Michelle Williams have been replaced by mere cutouts.

The doctored images are intended to encourage people to question “places in their lives where women are not as present as men”—in business, politics, or the entertainment industry, Chelsea Clinton, who is vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, told Refinery 29. The campaign is an effort to show that globally women are still at a disadvantage, in everything from labor to health care to education and even seemingly basic technology such as Internet access, as demonstrated by the No Ceilings: Full Participation Project. The campaign debuted on International Women’s Day.

The No Ceilings report concluded that women occupy just 22 percent of seats in national legislatures, up from 12 percent in 1997. Also, in many countries, surveys reported that people still believe men make better political leaders than women do. Additionally, women’s participation in the global labor force has largely stagnated over the last two decades.

To drive the point home, high-profile advocates such as Amy Poehler, Sienna Miller, Cameron Diaz, Padma Lakshmi, and Jenny Slate voiced those statistics in a video for the campaign. But unlike most public service announcements, this one didn’t rely on the familiar faces of smiling celebrities. In fact, women were noticeably missing from the video.

The campaign is also urging women around the world to change their social media profile photo to a blank silhouette of a woman and to use the hashtag #notthere. Several celebrities—including supermodel Karlie Kloss and actors Lupita Nyong’o and Diaz—have adopted the photo as their public Twitter avatar.

Clinton hopes the images will force people to stop and ask the question: “Wait, why are there not more women...in every part of our lives?”