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Fiji: Media Critic Condemns Lack Of Women's Views

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SUVA (Wansolwara Online/Pacific Media Watch): There is a gross under-representation of women's views in the Fiji media, says the director of femLink Pacific, Sharon Bhagwan-Rolls.

Addressing the University of the South Pacific journalism students yesterday, Bhagwan-Rolls said that recent studies had shown that while women made up 55 per cent of Fiji's total population, they received just 18 per cent of the total daily coverage provided by the media.

The media, she said, interviewed men in positions of power, including in most government ministries, while ignoring the women.

She said there were many newsworthy stories concerning women that could be covered.

"We are also voters in Fiji and we have the right to express our opinions to the media on issues affecting society so why can't the media include us in its coverage? "

Apart from being ignored, Bhagwan-Rolls said that women were portrayed negatively or in a sexual manner by the media.

She said this type of distorted coverage "enhanced the barriers and differences between the two sexes" and that the media should review its policy to ensure that it reflects gender balance.

The situation, said Bhagwan-Rolls, was regrettable as the media could do much to enhance the status of women.

"The media is an industry that can achieve many things. But I think owners, and decision-makers of the media industry in Fiji need to review their policies in terms of how they recruit staff, the manner in which they treat them, the contents of stories and the programmes they are pursuing," she said.

FemLink Pacific is a women's advocacy non-governmenr organisation that works closely with other local and regional women's organisations in trying to get women's views heard. It produces a regular newsletter and has produced several television documentaries.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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