Cautious Celebration in Face of Bias, Violence and Media Stereotypes

Date: March 8, 2011
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100 Years of International Women’s Day:

Today, the 8th of March 2011, marks 100 years since the first celebration of International Women’s Day, but the struggle for women’s rights remains a battle to be won, particularly for women in the media says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Despite winning the right to vote and, in many countries, legal emancipation, women continue to be the worst affected by recession, poverty and social dislocation. Around the globe they are expected to maintain a double role as breadwinners and home-makers.

Female journalists struggle to overcome discrimination at all levels and are targets of violence, threats and repression simply for doing their job. The battle continues on issues of equal access to jobs and promotion, equal pay and a greater representation of women in decision-making positions. Media in many parts of the world continue to reinforce stereotypes that encourage sexist behaviour and discrimination.

“Women are still discriminated against in the workplace when it comes to salary or professional responsibility,” said Mindy Ran, Chair of the IFJ Gender Council, “Yet female journalists take major physical risks in their work in many places across the world”. Recent upheavals in the Middle East and across the Arab world have further highlighted the dangers many journalists face, and also the specific dangers facing women.

“The scourge of violence against journalists remains a challenge for us all,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, “But the recent serious sexual assault against CBS correspondent Lara Logan in the midst of celebrations of a popular revolution in Cairo brings up another dimension – the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women journalists.”

The attack on Logan took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. She was saved by a group of women and soldiers. “The attack on Logan must remind us that, while advising journalists about how to keep safe when reporting these demonstrations, we must set out gender-specific training for women journalists,” said Boumelha.

The IFJ is also working to raise awareness on this issue in regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where attacks against women involving systematic rape are rife.

In Europe, women journalists have joined with their trade union sisters, not only to celebrate a century of amazing and inspiring women in the movement across countries and unions – the first International Women’s Day was held in Germany – but also to highlight the disaster of systemic discrimination hidden in public spending cuts across the continent, including in the United Kingdom, where trade unions estimate that cuts will impact severely and disproportionately on disadvantaged women, single-parent families and the most vulnerable in society.

In Russia, the 7th of March was marked with readings, open debates and exchanges with activists from around the region and other countries. There were also calls for solidarity against impunity, repression and violence. Women journalists, such as Anna Politkovskaya, have been among the prominent victims of impunity, repression and danger facing many journalists in the region, and in Belarus, award-winning investigative journalist Irina Khalip, correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, remains under house arrest. In Turkey, journalists face constant threat of imprisonment. Gurbet Á‡akar, a women journalist was among the 60 journalists who were put behind bars for nothing more than doing her jobs.

Elsewhere the situation is equally troubling. According to the Association of Iranian Journalists, two women journalists, Hengameh Shahidi and Nazanin Khosravani are among the 34 journalists in jail. In Colombia, many women journalists like Claudia Julieta Duque and her daughter, who were threatened by the Colombian secret police because of Claudia’s investigative reporting, have been forced into exile on account of their work.

“Across the globe women journalists are victims of specific threats and, like all women, they remain vulnerable to oppressive systems,” said Boumelha. “The IFJ and its Gender Council joins with others in celebrating the historic victories of the women’s movement of the last century, but we reaffirm our demand that journalists, editors, publishers and trade unions work together to improve the safety of all women journalists. This is not only an act of simple solidarity but it is of paramount importance in the fight for press freedom, democracy and equality for all.”

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries.


0 thoughts on “Cautious Celebration in Face of Bias, Violence and Media Stereotypes”

Jayvee says:

One of persons who most ifceulnned me is my primary school teacher Miss Hawthorne she used to drilled into us that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. This simply motto has remained with me from I was aged four years, and it has helped me to conquer many mountains in life.

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