07.03.2012 - UNESCO

UNESCO launches Women Make the News 2012

Afghan women making the news - © UNESCO

UNESCO, once again, calls on its media partners to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment remain on the forefront of their agenda, through its Women Make the News (WMN) 2012 initiative. Launched annually on the occasion of International Women’s Day (8 March), WMN is a global policy advocacy initiative aimed at promoting gender equality in and through the media.

Much has been achieved since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). Yet the Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) finds that still only 24% of the people questioned, heard, seen or read about in the written and audiovisual media are women; 76% are men. Only 16% of stories focus specifically on women.

The UNESCO-supported Global Report on the Status of Women in the News Media (2011) reveals that women are underrepresented in the media operations in 73%, 50% and 46% of the countries surveyed in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Oceana, and the Americas, respectively. This is indicative that there is much more to be done.

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…”

The theme for this year, Rural women’s access to media and information, seeks to underscore and stimulate knowledge exchange on:

  • the importance of policies and programmes in favour of access to media and information in rural communities, particularly for rural women; and
  • good practices and successes in this area as undertaken by public service broadcasters, commercial and community media and NGOs working to improve rural women’s access to media and information.

Access to media and information by rural women and men has many important dimensions or entry points. Within the framework of the function of the media to provide information needed by rural women to enhance their economic empowerment and political participation, WMN 2012 focuses on two of these entry points. Firstly, can and how are rural women and men actually accessing (listen to, read or watch) radio, newspaper and television in their communities, and how are community media and new media/technologies helping?  Secondly, are rural women actually in charge of the programming, production and broadcast of media content?

It is unequivocal that public service broadcasters, commercial media and community media can be key forces to drive the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which calls on all stakeholders to combat for “…women’s access to and participation in all communication systems, especially media”. International, regional and local NGOs and other social actors are also critical nodes in the network of stakeholders. But do the necessary policies and programmes exist in these different forms of media and ownership structures?

Therefore, the theme for WMN 2012, Rural women’s access to media and information, is equally important to national and international media organizations and civil society organizations concerned with gender issues.

Please click here to learn more about how you can join this initiative.

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