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Choices Restricted to Men in New Ad - But Will They Make a Stand for Equality?

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As a women, do you feel like you have choices taken away from you that men can freely see, hear, taste or smell? The answer is probably no, but when it comes to the big things - pay, housework and child care, rape - you probably think the answer is entirely different. And these do actually affect our everyday lives. 

An interactive advert will at a bus stop outside of Selfridge's has been launched to highlight this plight. Using facial recognition, women will be able to watch a 40 second ad, while men will only see a still. Plan UK has launched this to highlight the plight of girls across the world and show how little choice women actually have. 

Plan UK's idea behind this is a good one but I am not so sure how effective it will actually be. Many men won't care or know that what they are seeing is a restricted version, and I imagine that once they find out that a basic choice has been taken away they will probably shrug their shoulders and think it doesn't affect them. Or for the more insecure men out there, it will rattle their cage. Both types of men must be targeted if anything is to change. 

And it is just that that this ad campaign does begin to achieve and it is a crucial message: that men play a vital role in helping women and girls become all they can be and aren't hindered in any way, shape or form. 

What it does say, implicitly, is that without tackling female inequality, we are actually ignoring so many of societies ills. 

Let's take poverty. A fifth of the world's population live on less than $1 a day, and tackling this is one of the world's biggest social movements of our time. Live 8, Make Poverty History, and the Global Campaign against poverty have all persuaded one in four Britain's to take action. Yet, 70% of those living on $1 a day or less are women and two thirds of the 800 million people that are illiterate are women. Women own just one per cent of the world's land and properly, yet do more than 80 per cent of the unpaid housework.

Research shows that if women and men had an equal hand at making decisions, many of these problems would disappear.

Essentially, equality is not just something that will make women's lives better, it will actually help to tackle so many of the world's problems. 

I have been a firm believer for some time that without moving the debate onto men - so for instance why they restrict choice to women and try to control what women's status is in society - true equality will never be achieved. I know that many studies have begun to look at this, but the debate hasn't really started. And a huge barrier preventing this from happening is that men are scared to have this sort of debate. By doing so would mean having to give up a huge amount of pride. Not that many men would admit to that. 

But without understanding why men do certain things, we won't see change. Like why women are paid more than a fifth less than men. Or why the number of men paying for sex acts doubled during the 1990s. Or even why 100,000 women are raped each each in the UK.

While I don't think Plan UK's campaign will be a huge success, it does highlight the right issue. Feminists, organisations and most importantly, government should follow in their footsteps. 

As long as we wake up each day and these ills are still in place, we will know the equality is still an illusion.