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Kamala Sarup: Women's Dignity & Media On March 8

Women's Dignity And the Media On March 8


By Kamala Sarup

The media watchdog RSF said today" Deadly violence against female media workers has reached an all-time high in the last two years. Of the 82 journalists murdered in 2006 alone, nine were women. RSF spokesman Jean Francois Juillard said "More and more women are taking risks in their jobs because there are an increasing number of exposes, and they are doing a lot of investigative reporting, which can upset a lot. In a lot of countries, women journalists ask the police or the authorities for protection, and they don't get any answer," he further added.

It is true, a woman engaged in the media world have to face several challenges. The process becomes even more difficult if the woman happens to be an unmarried.

It is true, media plays a vital role in the development of women culture and civilization. But the network of media is not fully developed. It is limited to Radio, a popular media which is being used by less percent of women. Only privileged percent have access to television, telephone, wireless and the newspaper especially in Asia. Therefore, efforts are needed to gear up media to achieve its maximum goal. Obviously, media must be given a greater focus.

There are a total of some newspapers in the world including dailies, weeklies, quartiles and monthlies. The number of women involved in both print and electronic media are relatively very low. It seems the media world doesn't believe in the co existence of men and women. It seemingly rather takes women as persons useful only for domestic work as house wives and mothers.

The women who want to come into this field make tentative efforts and usually getting restricted, discouraged and often neglected.

Due to the lack of training, women journalists are nearly always deprived of brighter areas of reporting. Therefore, only a small group of women can go to the media. It is said that women represent fewer of the employees in the national newspapers and magazines. Furthermore, fewer than some percent are engaged at the management level. One of the main reasons for limited involvement of women in the media and in the field of writing are, they are isolated from the expose.

On the other hand, the women's media is less resourceful compared to the government controlled media. As the women's media can afford to pay very little. Since, the fourth estate, as it is constitutionally termed, remains one of the pillars of democracy, all possible helps must be rendered to the media for its healthy growth.

The media also been reaffirming the stereotyped gender roles which is really a big obstacles for women. The media projected dominant stereotypes are:women as less competent human beings, Women to be exploited, women as sexual objects. There are very few examples which may explain the violence provoked by the media.

In a workshop on Media and Violence in the UN world Conference in China in 1995, Margaret Gallagher, a well known media activist and practitioner expressed concern that the media were deeply implicated in the apparent social normalization of violence, that is to say in contributing to a culture in which violence of many kinds seems normal, natural and indeed acceptable.

She noted that image of women as submissive or inferior which initially look benign, can become part of continuing images that overtly objectify or sexuality women and from there the outright subjugation and domination of women may follow.

In 2001, the International Federation of Journalists reported that around the world, 38 per cent of all working journalists are women. In 2002, the Canadian Newspaper Association reported that 43 per cent of Canadian newspaper employees are women.The 2001 study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania is equally damning. The Center reports that only 13 per cent of the top executives of American media, telecommunications and e-companies are female.However, men continue to occupy approximately 75 per cent of the positions of power in the mass media. (source:media awareness.ca)

The Fourth World Conference on Women advocated that " Most women, especially in developing countries, are not able to access effectively the expanding electronic information highways and therefore cannot establish networks that will provide them with alternative sources of information.The lack of gender sensitivity in the media is evidenced by the failure to eliminate the gender-based stereotyping that can be found in public and private local, national and international media organizations". The fourth conference also gave an overview of problems and issues surrounding women and the media.

On the other hand, reporting of women by the media at present have become the toughest challenge for women. Sometimes, media is found to be confused about the definition of the women.

In this context, Nairobi forward looking strategies emphasized:"Steps should be taken to promote the elimination or reduction of women violence in the media".

Efforts from all quarters are imperative to remove this growing social abuse. Therefore, media can be the strong tool for creating pressure to amend the law and raising awareness for gender equality. Thus, we need promote women dignity as well as promotes attitudes and practices that result in respect women.

*************

Journalist and a story writer from Nepal, a Nepali journalist, Kamala Sarup is an editor of peacejournalism.com. She has also been invited as a speaker at a number of peace and women conferences. She is specialising in in-depth reporting and writing on Peace Resolutions, Anti war, Women, Terrorism, Democracy, Development, Politics and HIV/AIDS. Some of her publications are: Women's Empowerment (Booklet, 1999). Prevention of trafficking in women for prostitution through media, (Book) Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in Women & Girls - A Pre-Study for Media Activism (1998).


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