Gender and Media Summit and Awards

Gender and Media Summit and Awards

Date: November 4, 2010
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Note: Andrew Jones, our colleague and the videographer for the Summit, passed just days after the close of the event. To read a piece about Jones written by Colleen Lowe Morna, click here. We mourn the loss of his life, and our sympathies go out to his family, friends and colleagues.

Participants at the Fourth Annual Gender and Media Summit and Awards have raised a concern about increasingly poor media practice in the Southern Africa region, especially noting   glaring examples which occurred during the course of the three-day event.

During the three day summit convened by Gender Links (GL), the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) and the Gender and Media Southern African (GEMSA) Network, delegates protested an article in Noticias, a Mozambican newspaper, identifying a 16 year old girl who had a failed abortion down to her name, home and school.

Noting that it is highly unlikely a man would be treated in the same way, the summit compared such secondary victimisation in the media to “throwing acid in the face of the young woman.”

The summit also strongly condemned the Ugandan tabloid newspaper The Rolling Stone for seeking out purported Ugandan homosexuals on Facebook and featuring them in a front page article entitled “100 pictures of Uganda’s Top homos leak.” This occurs against the backdrop of the controversial Anti-homosexuality Bill seeking to ban h These statements were supported and published by the International Federation of Journalists.

The 130 GEM summit delegates, who include East African and international observers, condemned the gross abuse of new media to infringe the rights of the individuals concerned. “The personal damage to those affected is incalculable,” noted the delegates, who include a representative from the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). “This is gutter journalism at its worst.À

Approximately 160 participants from 13 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries as well as the USA, Canada, India and Uganda, gathered at the Birchwood Hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 13-15 October for Summit.

The Summit, which takes place every two years, coincided with the 10 year review of the Millennium Development Goals, Beijing +15 Review and the launch of the Decade of the African Woman on 15 October. The Summit was also part of the build-up to the 20th anniversary of the Windhoek Declaration on Media Freedom in Africa. Most importantly, it took place against the backdrop of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which calls for gender parity within the media, as well as equal voice and fair treatment of women and men in editorial content by 2015.

A result of the Summit will be the upcoming Gender and Media Diversity Journal, Gender, media, diversity and change: Taking stock.

The Summit was also an opportunity for GL to launch two major research studies:

The Gender in Media Education research (GIME) found that although there are still fewer women than men media trainers, there are now more female than male media students in many countries.

But the Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS) found that there has been only a marginal improvement in the proportion of women sources in the news in the region from 17% in the 2003 Gender and Media Baseline Study (GMBS) to 19% in the GMPS.

The Summit kicked off with a keynote address by Colleen Lowe Morna, on the results of the   Gender and MEdia Progress Study (GMPS) while the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) was canvassed by Lavinia Mohr,   Director of Programmes of the World Association of Christian Communications (WACC). On 14 October, renowned Indian journalist and gender activist Ammu Joseph launched a book which she co-authored: Missing half the story: Journalism as if gender matters.

The major highlight of the conference was the Gender and Media (GEM) Awards on 15 October, in which journalists from 13 countries submitted 119 entries (87 by women and 37 by men) to contest in 16 potential categories. Submissions included stories about forced sterilization in Namibia, gender dimensions of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, rape in marriage, HIV and AIDS, among others.

The award judges and Gender Links found that many of this year’s entries were not up to scratch and awards were not given in several categories.   Judge Mercedes Sayagues gave a speech at the award ceremony noting the poor quality of some of the entries, which can be viewed here.

Prior to the Summit parallel meetings and training sessions were held from 11 À“ 12 October on:
–       Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service and Business Unusual Training
–       Training and media literacy
–       Sixteen Days
–       Gender policies
–       GMDC Advisory Group

The Gender and Media Summit and Awards helped foster sharing and brainstorming on how to better incorporate gender into the current media landscape.

Since the Summit, the following articles have been published about the homophobic and unethical article from Uganda’s The Rolling Stone:

Mail and Guardian, South Africa
Chattah Box, Global
Religious Dispatches. USA
GayNZ, New Zealand
The Independent, UK
SSO, Australia

Gender Policies

The gender policy pre-summit meeting brought together seven country facilitators. The purpose of this meeting was to verify and consolidate the list of newsrooms targeted for gender policies. Gender Links has a target of implementing policies in 100 newsrooms by June 2011. So far 12 newsrooms have adopted gender policies while 26 are in the process of finalising their policies. After the two day meeting, a comprehensive list of 64 media houses to be targeted for gender policies was developed. Each country facilitator then worked on a country action plan for the roll out process. These action plans will be reviewed in February 2011.

Media Literacy
An output of the Summit is that a number of Southern African Institutions have committed to participate in media literacy training. 11 Institutions in 11 SADC countries will take up the course with students, community media, staff, and student run media.

To learn about Media Literacy, click here.

GBV Entry Points
One of the outputs of GL’s work with UNESCO is the development of GBV entry points into media education curriculum. This model was presented at the Summit, and in the coming months these points will be taken forward.

Working groups
There were plenary discussions as well as targeted working groups on five themes: research and monitoring, media regulation and policy, community and social media, gender and media training and gender and media advocacy. These working groups met for two days, and the third day convened for a report back. Below are the findings drafted from the five working groups, including key points raised, objectives moving forward, and action points to achieve those objectives.

To read more about the Summit, including papers and presentations, key actions and outcomes click here.

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