International: For a free, fair and gender responsive press


Date: April 30, 2015
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Johannesburg, 30 April: This Sunday, 3 May we commemorate World Press Freedom Day amidst concerns over the absence of a clear goal, targets and indicators on media and information, communication technologies (ICTs) in the draft post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is particularly worrying in light of widespread censorship and clampdown on media freedom and freedom of expression across the globe. In addition, women’s voices and gender issues remain largely absent from media discourse.

According to a 2014 Gender Links (GL) spot monitoring exercise, women constitute a mere 21% of news sources in Southern Africa. GL’s Glass Ceilings in Southern African Media Houses Study (2009) showed that women constituted 41% of those working in the media and only 28% of those in management.

The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) 2011 Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media reveals that globally, men occupy 73% of the top management jobs compared to 27% occupied by women. Men comprise nearly two-thirds of all reporters, compared to 36% women. However, among senior professionals, women now constitute 41% of those in the newsgathering and editing categories. The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) 2010 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) shows that women constitute a mere 24% of news sources globally, up from 17% in 1995, but still moving at a snail’s pace.

During May 2015, in partnership with UNESCO and the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG), GAMAG Chair-Gender Links (GL) and partners will promote awareness on issues relating to Women and the Media as part of the Beijing +20 Review. GAMAG brings together over 500 organisations and networks concerned with gender equality in and through the media across the globe. GAMAG members are joining hands this May to drive a vibrant campaign that will address critical issues on gender and the media, such as gender in media training and research; gender in media content; gender responsive media policies; and women’s participation in media.

The Women and the Media Campaign comes at an opportune time as 2015 marks 20 years since the historic Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action- the only global instrument that highlights the importance of gender equality in and through the media (Section J). With a focus on the post 2015 development agenda, partners across the world are also reviewing the Beijing Declaration re-emphasising the relevance of Section J in the post 2015 gender agenda.

As part of the ongoing media monitoring, GL is embarking on a third regional study on Gender and Media. The 2015 Gender and Media Progress Study (GMPS) will gauge progress in achieving gender equality in and through the media in Southern Africa since the 2008 signing of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development. The study will therefore explore the status of gender in media content, including advertising, gender in media houses and gender in journalism and media education.

For the first time, GL is broadening the media monitoring study to measure and analyse the representation of diverse gender identities, sexual orientation and disability in the media. This research will serve as the 2015 media barometer and potentially a basis for taking forward the global campaign to include specific targets and indicators on gender, media and ICTs in the post 2015 SDGs. Meanwhile, WACC- also a GAMAG member- is conducting the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP).

GAMAG Chair and Gender Links CEO Colleen Lowe Morna says that there is an inextricable link between gender equality and press freedom, and this link must not be ignored in the post 2015 framework, “To forge a development agenda so blind to both the possibilities and dangers of the information revolution, including for gender equality, is ill advised.” Lowe Morna condemned the alarming decline in press freedom, saying a censored press further threatens progress made toward gender equality.

According to the Freedom of the World 2015 report, published by Freedom House and aptly titled Discarding Democracy: Return of the Iron Fist, due to terrorism and aggressive anti-democratic tactics by totalitarian regimes, there has been an overall drop in press freedom across the world for the ninth consecutive year.

Justice and equality is dependent on a free press, and transformation will only be meaningful if we employ gender balance as a key indicator of diversity and media freedom. We cannot celebrate press freedom when censorship abounds and citizens are denied the right to be heard and unable to participate and benefit from our democracy. We must break the glass ceiling and advance a free, fair and gender responsive press. Yes We Must!

For more information about the GMPS and the GAMAG Women and the Media Campaign contact GL Media Manager, Sikhonzile Ndlovu and GL Communications Manager, Katherine Robinson.

 


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