International Women’s Day: Media urged to get with the action

Date: January 1, 1970
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7 March 2006: Gender and media activists have issued a strong plea to the media in Southern Africa to change the gender imbalances in newsrooms and in editorial content on the eve of International Women’s Day.
“Despite the many advances in the region with regard to gender equality, the media lags behind in almost every respect,” noted Colleen Lowe Morna, Executive Director of Gender links and Chair of the Gender and Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) Network. 
“It is ironic,” she added, “that the media, which should be at the forefront of setting the agenda for social change, has been among the most resistant to such change. It is especially ironic that the media justifies its inaccessibility to diverse views and voices in the name of free speech. How free is free speech when half the population is effectively excluded from being heard?”
8 March 2006 marks the end of a three week campaign sparked by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) that showed that around the world women comprise a mere 21 percent of news sources, up from 18 percent five years ago. At 19 percent, the region has made progress, but is still below the global average. South Africa, at 26 percent is highest, while Botswana and Angola at 13 percent are lowest.
Traditionally 8 March is marked in many news rooms by handing over the making of the news to women who still remain under represented within the media, particularly at decision-making levels.
GL and GEMSA, in partnership with the World Bank, will launch a Media Diversity Journal and hold a video conference on the regional findings of the GMMP on 8 March.  
The journal, sponsored by UNESCO, is the culmination of three weeks of activities that have included the launch of research on “Who talks on radio talk shows” as well as a regional Gender and Media Audience Study called “My views on the News” that shows that across the region audiences would like more news about issues that affect their every day lives and emanate from a diversity of sources.    
  • The launch of the Media Diversity Journal will take place on Wednesday 8 March from 12.00 to 15.00 at the offices of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), 14 Fricker Road, Illovo, Johannesburg.
  • To view the Southern Africa analysis of the GMMP go to
  • For more information contact: Colleen Lowe Morna on 082-651-6995 or Kubi Rama 082-378-8239.  

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