12.10.2012 - Communication & Information Sector

Gender Media Forum Opens at Seoul ABU General Conference

Speakers at the Forum (left to right): Gil Hwan-Young, Kim Kum-Iae, Javad Mottaghi, Eun Ju Kim, Geena Davis, Gwang-Jo Kim - © UNESCO

“We have unprecedented opportunities for expression today, thanks to new technologies and media … but we must ensure that all this helps advance human rights, especially gender equality,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a video-message screened at the opening session of the Women with the Wave – Gender Media Forum. The occasion was a special event held in association with the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) General Conference on 10 October 2012.

Women with the Wave is organized by ABU, KBS and ITU in partnership with UNESCO and other organizations. In her address, Ms Bokova said that she considered the event a key step towards the Global Forum on Media and Gender that will be organized by UNESCO and UN Women in 2013.

"If you can see it, you can be it" said the forum’s keynote-speaker, Oscar-winning actress Ms Geena Davis, who is also founder of an Institute on Gender and Media and ITU Special Envoy for Women and Girls in ICT. She highlighted how most speaking characters in the movie industry are men, and wondered what kind of message this sent to child viewers

Director of the Bangkok UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Office for Education Mr Gwang-Jo Kim noted that according to the Global Report on the Status of Women in the Media, men outnumbered women 4:1 in media management positions across Asia-Pacific.

ABU Secretary-General Mr Javad Mottaghi said: “We in the media are changing too and this forum is part of what I sincerely hope will be an unstoppable tide of change." Mr Mottaghi also mentioned ABU's contribution to develop the UNESCO Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM).

Ms Ann Mei Chang, Senior Advisor for Women and Technology of the US Department of State spoke of a “mobile phone gender gap” as well as an “Internet gender gap”. To tackle these disparities, she said it is necessary to work around four pillars: affordability, cultural issues, literacy and the perceived value of technology in improving women’s lives.

Throughout a week, ABU General Assembly and associated events and sessions are expected to gather more than 700 broadcast managers, media professionals and regulators. Communication and Information Advisor of the UNESCO Beijing Office, Mr Andrea Cairola, will present about upcoming World Radio Day 2013, along with the UN Inter-Agency Meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity scheduled for next month in Vienna.

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