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U.K. pulls 'stay home, save lives' ad after criticism that it revived stereotypes of women

Only women need to "stay home" to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom - or at least that's how people interpreted a now-yanked National Health Services campaign.

The National Health Service, Britain's publicly funded health-care system, released an ad Wednesday that ostensibly was created to encourage people to stay home as much as possible amid the pandemic. It showed four scenes: one with a woman relaxing on a sofa with her male partner and three in which women are home caring for children or cleaning the house.

The stereotypical tone did not sit well with its targeted social media constituency.

Social platforms were buzzing with accusations of sexism after the NHS posted the advert on its Facebook page Wednesday night. Among the most common reactions was "who thought this was okay?"

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the image in a statement: "I will make clear that it does not reflect the government's view on women which is why we have withdrawn it," Sky News reported.

But the criticism was swift and continued to circulate even after the ad was removed.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper addressed the ad Thursday morning, tweeting: "Turns out 1950s sexism is spread fast too."

Health officials around the world have pleaded with people to stay home as much as possible to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In the U.K., the number of new cases has been declining since early January, but experts fear the emergence of new and more contagious variants could lead to another increase. The digital flier was an attempt to get citizens to stay at home as coronavirus cases slowly decline with a new variant discovered in the country contributing to more infection.

Johnson is taking heat this week for claiming that his government had truly done "everything we could" to save the lives that were lost in the pandemic. While the country's vaccine rollout has been going relatively smooth, Johnson's critics pointed to a year-long pattern of bold promises followed by failures.

More than 3.7 million cases and 103,000 covid-related deaths have been reported in the U.K., according to data tracked by The Washington Post.

Globally, the pandemic has disproportionately affected women, causing their job losses to be 1.8 times greater than that of men. Women's voices and perspectives have also been marginalized in the coronavirus conversation, according to multiple studies.

Women and people without a college education have been most affected by the U.K. lockdown restrictions, according to a University of Cambridge study.

Published : January 29, 2021

By : The Washington Post · Lateshia Beachum