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Why should we make emojis more inclusive?

She-Moji is the custom keyboard for women that want more than bunny girls and haircuts

Emojis may seem trivial, but they’re shaping culture as we know it today. They’re popping up in our porn, in celebrity culture (even North Korea are getting in on that, kinda) and changing modern entomology. Emojis are everywhere, but are they for everyone?

She-Moji is a custom emoji keyboard that includes a set of new female characters that adhere more to real life than the princess and bunny girl emoticons. The idea was born when Karina, Noemie and Mirmala, who all work in digital and design, realised how fed up they were with the lack of female representation in something a lot of us get to use every day.

“It’s one of those things, that once it’s pointed out to you, it’s all you notice! During a casual night in, the topic naturally came up again and what started with ‘what if we...’ then became the product She-Moji,” they say.

The trio point to the female-fronted emoji boards already out there at the moment: Kimoji, Muva Moji and Blac Chyna, which “focus on empowerment through a woman’s sexuality”. They explain: “While we think these apps are fun and have their own merit – we also knew there was still room for more options for women... where’s the emoji that represents me?”

White emojis can be a fun way to play with language and decorate your texts, there’s really a lot more to it in a broader context of what they reflect about the world. “We use emoji everyday to communicate. While limitations in the emoji vocabulary might seem unimportant, they do play a subconscious role in reinforcing gender stereotypes,” the She-Moji founders assert.

“Even though emoji represent a very small part of the gender construct in society, we think building a more representative set might contribute to changing these ingrained attitudes – even if it is, in a small way (quite literally!). The issue is even more important when you consider that the largest sector of the emoji market are very young girls.”

And from this, came the astronauts, surgeons and accounts, karate kids, basketball players and yoga instructors. They’ve added more women of colour, as well as redheads and women with curly hair. Though Karina says that “we’ve only just scratched the surface”. For their second release, they plan to get women making requests for what they want to see represented, using #makemyshemoji on social media.

50 per cent of the profits go towards the Malala Fund, an organization that works to enable girls to complete 12 years of safe, quality education so that they can go on to achieve their potential and make change within their families and communities across the world.

They explained: “Right from the get-go we knew we wanted to make this more than just another emoji keyboard, and donate to a women’s charity. We did a lot of research to make sure we found a cause we all supported, and one that aligned with the overall message that She–Moji is trying to send.”

We decided on the Malala Fund because they work to provide free and safe education for young girls around the world,” they say. “We like Malala’s message, her philosophy, and her vision for the future, and we strongly feel that this is something that people – men and women, globally – can easily get behind.”

Recently, Google had its new emojis approved by Unicode, which highlight the diversity of women’s careers and lives. When 90 per cent of the world’s digital population using emoji, it’s bound to have an impact.

“At the end of the day, we hope the She–Moji users (including men!) can enjoy a few more emoji options, and appreciate the small but important move towards better emoji gender equality,” they observe.

She-Moji is available on iTunes now