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How to Support Girl Power in Licensing (and Beyond)

Does the licensing industry support #EachforEqual?

International Women’s Day, a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, is Sunday, March 8. The day is a call-to-action for every person to help accelerate women’s equality.

While this may be a social media-driven holiday, IWD has been around for much longer. The first group gathering was in 1911, supported by more than a million people. 

This year, IWD is promoting ways to forge a “gender-equal world.” Is this some that we collectively practice in our everyday lives, but in licensing? Let’s take a look. 

Celebrating Women’s Achievements

According to IWD, one action we can take is to celebrate women’s achievements. Licensing does that through Women In Toys, the global networking community for professional women in the toy, licensing and entertainment industries. At the 16th annual Wonder Women Awards in February, WIT honored Pam Lifford, president, Warner Bros. Global Brands and Experiences and Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer, WWE. Women at ViacomCBS, Mattel, Disney Parks, and more were also awarded at the ceremony, where WIT presented $2,500 scholarships to 11 students who’ve demonstrated academic excellence and leadership in business, design, engineering and entrepreneurial studies.

Raising Awareness Against Bias

The second action is to raise awareness against bias. At both Brand Licensing Europe in October 2019 and New York Toy Fair in February, there were panels where inclusivity and diversity were top of mind. License Global recently covered how esports are getting more inclusive by adding players of color and identify as women. This action is a slow climb, but it’s in the right direction. 

Take Action for Equality

The third call is to take action for equality. In this aspect, Mattel’s Barbie was ahead of the curve. Since 1959, the doll has held various careers that once belonged exclusively to men: astronaut, lawyer and doctor. But for decades, Barbie held a beauty standard many critics thought as antiquated. In 2016, Mattel launched the Barbie Fashionista line, which boasts 176 dolls with nine body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles. Newer additions include Barbies wearing hijabs and hearing aids. Recently, Mattel launched Creatable World, a line of gender-neutral dolls with various hair and clothing styles. 

During New York Toy Fair, Mattel and Women in Toys also launched The Ruth Handler Mentorship Program. In step with Mattel’s 75th anniversary, the program is to help career growth across the toy industry through mentorship, coaching, professional development and learning. The global, company-agnostic program is underwritten by The Mattel Foundation and named after Handler, Mattel’s co-founder and creator of the Barbie brand, who was a mentor to many and inspired girls of all ages to reach their limitless potential. 

In short, those in licensing do address the topics of this year’s International Women’s Day. But there is still more work to be done before the industry is #EachforEqual.

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