Media for gender equality

The goal of gender equality is still a long way away, according to a just-released UN report which found that nine out of ten people around the world are biased against women. RNW Media is one of 10 organisations that have signed a joint statement emphasising the crucial role media can play in advancing the rights of women and girls and achieving that goal.

The joint statement, signed by 10 organisations working to achieve change through media, is addressed to the UN Commission on the Status of Women which traditionally convenes around March 8th, International Women’s Day *. Media, it says, can contribute to gender equality in all domains by creating gender-sensitive and gender-transformative content and breaking gender stereotypes.

Damaging sterotypes
That those stereotypes are still strong is clear from the findings behind the new Gender Social Norms Index released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today. This index is based on data collected from 75 countries, covering over 80 percent of the world’s population. Among the findings were that almost half of people feel men are superior political leaders and more than 40% believe men make better business executives. Almost a third of men and women think it’s acceptable for a man to beat his wife.

Media influence
The joint statement highlights research showing that from a young age, children are influenced by the gender stereotypes they see in media. It points out that 46% of news stories reinforce gender stereotypes while only 4% of stories clearly challenge them. Media, it says, can effectively challenge the social and cultural norms that hold back women and girls and ensure that they have access to the information they need to claim their rights.

Threats online and off
The statement goes on to express concern about the safety of women working in media. Gender-based violence, both digital and physical, poses a threat to freedom of expression and access to information. according to the signatories, who describe the silencing of female journalists as

‘an attack on democracy itself as it leads to self-censorship: women retreating from the public sphere because of the harassment.’

Research shows that a third of female journalists consider leaving the profession because of the threats, intimidation or attacks they endure. More than a third of female journalists avoided reporting certain stories for the same reason and almost half of female journalists experience online abuse.

Gender equality is a core value for RNW Media and we are committed to reflecting that principle in all our activities around the globe.

Click Joint Statement on Gender and Media to download the full statement.

*The Commission was scheduled to convene on March 9th, but the gathering has been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.