World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development

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UNESCO fights violence against women journalists

On 25 November 2021, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression, with support from UNESCO, published the essay collection #JournalistsToo – Women Journalists Speak Out.

This publication presents personal experiences of eleven journalists who have been targeted by harassment and highlights how women journalists resist and fight back.

nvestigative journalist Maria Ressa from the Philippines was named laureate of the 2021 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize

Around the globe, online and offline attacks on female journalists are escalating. These range from sexist hate speech and trolling to physical assault, rape and even murder. Women in the media are targeted consistently and threats against them often focus on their gender and physical features and are coupled with other forms of discrimination such as racism.

These attacks risk leading to self-censorship, thus impoverishing the global information landscape.

Online violence against women journalists: a global snapshot of incidence and impacts
UNESCO
2020
With financial support from UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and the Swedish Postcode Lottery Foundation
0000375136
The safety of women journalists is a freedom of expression concern. ‘We need their voices to be represented loud and clear. It is the responsibility of employers, platforms, governments and the international community to ensure they can do their work safely.
Guilherme Canela, Chief of the Section for Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists at UNESCO

Encouragingly, recent UN resolutions and reports show a growing trend within the international community to recognize the specific risks women journalists face and to seek solutions. To this end, UNESCO continues to initiate research, capacity-building projects and information campaigns.

In April 2021, UNESCO released a pioneering discussion paper pointing to the sharp increase in online violence against women journalists – 73 per cent of the women surveyed reported experiencing it on the job. The Chilling: Global trends in online violence against women journalists is based on an interdisciplinary study carried out by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) for UNESCO to be published on 3 May 2022.

 

The Chilling: global trends in online violence against women journalists; research discussion paper
UNESCO
2021
With financial support from UNESCO’s Multi-Donor Programme on Freedom of Expression and Safety of Journalists and the Swedish Postcode Foundation
0000377223

The paper shows that online attacks on women journalists have real-life impact on productivity and mental health; they intersect with disinformation and other forms of discrimination besides misogyny; and they are politically motivated. Media organizations and social platforms are still struggling to find effective responses.

In November, UNESCO and the Thomson Reuters Foundation launched two sets of practical guidelines: Gender-sensitive Safety Policies for Newsrooms and a Practical Guide for Women Journalists on How to Respond to Online Harassment, both produced with the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). These publications provide techniques and tools to curb harassment and foster gender-sensitive workplaces. UNESCO, in cooperation with IWMF and the Knight Center has also produced self-directed online courses (in English, French and Spanish) on how to report safely aimed at women journalists and their allies.

Gender-sensitive safety policies for newsrooms: guidelines + checklist
UNESCO
2021
UNESCO
0000379907
Practical guide for women journalists on how to respond to online harassment
UNESCO
2021
UNESCO
0000379908