Women Make the News Initiative
As Margaret Gallagher, a media researcher, wrote in 1995 “As long as women and men are not given the possibility to work together on an equal basis, sharing the same rights and the same responsibilities, there is a democratic deficit in our societies”.
Women Make the News aims to emphasize that gender equality must remain at the forefront of each society’s agenda and that of the international community until gender balance is achieved at every level. The initiative has two goals: to promote gender equality in media operations, at all levels of their organizational structure; and to ensure equality in news reporting on women and men.
Annually, UNESCO and its partners invite a diverse range of print and broadcast media, as well as NGOs working in the field of gender and media, to debate a particular theme, to share their stories and experiences, articles, interviews, and TV and radio programmes dedicated to the year’s theme. Editors-in-chief of newspapers, radio, television, both online and offline, are also invited to join UNESCO’s initiative by producing special programmes on this topic and entrusting women journalists with editorial responsibility for the newsroom on International Women’s Day or for the period of the WMN initiative. By doing this WMN draws attention to UNESCO’s specific objectives concerning women’s participation in media. These objectives have been shaped by the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
As the UNESCO Director-General notes, “The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action is a reference for assessing progress towards equal rights and opportunities in all spheres [including in media] and identifying the significant challenges that still remain. The battle for gender equality is far from won…”
WMN encourages a renewed emphasis on the importance of having a balanced and fair representation of both women and men in the media, as well as diversity of voices and opinions, in order for the media to fulfill their democratic responsibility. This is achieved by fixing attention on an issue relating to gender equality in and through the media, driving debate and encouraging action-oriented solutions until global objectives are met.
Finally, this policy advocacy initiative is usually linked to on-going concrete actions undertaken by UNESCO to help its media partners and Member States address gender equality in and through media. Therefore, WMN is also a way for UNESCO to consult with key stakeholders in order to ensure that its strategy is evidence-based before implementation. Preparation of Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media is an example of such actions.