Cannes Young Lions Health Award: Addressing gender stereotypes with cartoons

Winners: Gerardo Saavedra and Emiliano Salmon

Cannes Lions are the most established and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. The Young Lions Health Award was presented in partnership with UNICEF and UN Women to a team with the most innovative solution to a critical real-world issue affecting children across the world. One of the winners, Gerardo Saavedra, shares his story below.

No matter the medium, the subject, or the breadth of the audience you’ll reach, when you dedicate yourself to working in communications, you have an immense social responsibility. Why? Because your content — your very words and images — will shape how others see the world and the people around them.

We know that young children, from the start of their lives, absorb ideas about how girls and boys — and women and men — “should” behave, and that these ideas become entrenched by the time they are 10 years old. Children learn about gender roles not only from their parents, teachers, and friends, but also from the stories they hear, the media they watch, and the language that is used around them.

A graphical representation of Cri-Cri, the animated character, holding a leaf akin to a violin.

Too often, they learn that boys should be aggressive and strong while girls should be demure and passive — setting the stage for a lifetime of inequality and discrimination. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

#MeToon, my most recent project and the winner of the 2018 Cannes Young Lions Health Award, is the first social movement to invite cartoonists and caricature artists to use their medium to educate new generations about gender equity. #MeToon taps into the power of some of the most unique figures shaping young children’s worldviews — the cartoon characters they are growing up with. We are calling on producers of children’s content from around the world to join the campaign and craft stories and messages that will change how future generations see women, men, boys and girls.

I’m excited to already have the character Cri-Cri on board, who has delighted Mexican children for over 80 years, as well as companies such as the Cartoon Network and Mighty Animation Studios.


That is the power of communication: to use creativity to build a better, more equal world.


Gerardo Saavedra is the Founder and Creative Concept Director of Felipa, an advertising agency in Mexico City, Mexico. Previously, he worked for a number of creative agencies and attended the world-renowned Miami Ad School.

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