21.09.2011 - UNESCO

Media and Information Literacy and Gender: Women Make the News 2011 feedback

UNESCO

Launched annually on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), Women Make the News (WMN) is a global initiative aimed at promoting gender equality in the media. The campaign for 2011 was dedicated to Media and Information Literacy (MIL) and Gender. The focus was to highlight good practices, and emphasize the importance of fostering media and information literate societies as a way to improve the understanding of women and men about gender perspectives in media and information systems. Contributions from associations and professionals describe inspiring stories.

Given its scope, the topic has been explored from different and somewhat complementary angles by various contributions selected for publication. UNESCO received contributions from a variety of places and professional milieus: journalists, editors, broadcasters, TV and radio operators, film makers and gender activists from countries such as Palestine, Hungary, Algeria, Malaysia, Congo, Kenya, United Kingdom and Belgium. Even when it was not explicitly referred to, the essence of the role of MIL was self-evident throughout the ensemble of stories that have been submitted.

Taken together, these insights depict a scenario rich with positive examples, possibilities and determination to improve the current situation. In many cases, the commitment to the cause has been concretized in specific actions, which include: the provision of training on media use to students of journalism; the publication of specific gender guidelines; the inclusion of women in the elaboration of audio-visual content; the development of media and information literacy at grassroots level among women who are usually discriminated.

Other examples unveil the incredible potential that women have to affirm their value as both subjects and actors of the news. The existence of radios, online news services, the Internet, community multimedia centres, telecentres, media organizations, media campaigns and TV chains that specifically focus on raising the volume of women’s voices is an encouraging sign that it is indeed possible to transform ideas into facts, and complaints into solutions.

What emerges from the collected witnessing is the common conviction that new and traditional media can be used not only for raising awareness on gender issues and on women conditions, but also for involving women directly in the creative processes of media content production. This approach, often referred to as user-generated content, is an important aspect of media and information literacy. The consciousness that indulging in mere victimization could end up reinforcing inequalities instead of dismantling them is well reflected in the vast range of creative initiatives undertaken or designed by the contributors. Contributors recognise the need to equip women with necessary media and information competencies that will enable self-expression, allow women to tell their own stories, and advance their cultural and social aspirations.

It is clear that this level of empowerment could not be attained without a proper MIL foundation, which allows both women and men involved in media and information to articulate knowledge-based strategies for achieving their goals. This means, on the one hand, that women who are willing to use, operate or be involved in the media, the Internet or other information providers need to be equipped with the necessary technical skills. On the other hand, it means sharpening their awareness and critical skills towards gender-biased media and information content, and enabling them to eventually correct the trend.

UNESCO is grateful to all contributors for having leveraged the spirit of the campaign and for sharing their experience with the rest of their colleagues across the world.

To read the detail of the individual contributions please click here.




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