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Last edited: July 28, 2020

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Media portrayals of women have been a concern for women’s rights advocates as far back as the 1970s. Today, women’s groups remain at the forefront of national advocacy, continuing to raise visibility on gender stereotypes and degrading portrayals of women and girls, unequal terms of employment, the safety of women journalists and human rights defenders and abuse faced by women and girls online. National efforts to promote gender equality in and through the media sector include: monitoring gender equality in media content and company performance, advocacy, training, policy development, media production and awards ceremonies. The expansion of communications tools and interconnectedness has enabled networks to transcend borders, with movements that span entire regions and the formation of vibrant global alliances. In Latin America alone, for example, there are now countless monitoring networks, linked together since 2007 in the Red Latinoamericana de Observatorios de Medios (Red Latinoamericana de Observatorios de Medios Comunicacion 2007).

Social activism and advocacy have been central to promoting gender equality in and through media. Women’s rights groups have been raising awareness of the industry’s discriminatory portrayal and treatment of women for decades, pushing for changes within international, regional and national normative/legislative frameworks and advocating for changes within media organizations themselves.  These groups have used research and monitoring at global, regional and national levels to regularly assess the performance of media organizations (public and private) against agreed commitments and obligations to promote accountability in this area.  The evolving knowledge-base is also used to showcase good practices and to advocate for further development of normative frameworks and their implementation.

Networks of professional media workers invested in gender equality are a valuable mechanism for prevention of violence against women. There are often networks of media workers, for example, within journalists’ trade unions with women’s or other relevant subcommittees, which can offer a space for media outlets and groups working to prevent VAWG to share expertise and form partnerships.

Mapping stakeholders, relevant groups and their networks can identify other actors who would like to engage with the media VAWG prevention work. This provides opportunities for partnerships in approaching media partners and can generate additional interest for media outlets to engage with a wider network.

 

The World Association of Community Radios (AMARC)

The World Association of Radio Community Broadcasters (AMARC) is an international non-governmental organization serving the community radio movement, with almost 4 000 members and associates in 150 countries. AMARC aims to support and contribute to the development of community and participatory radio along with the principals of solidarity and international cooperation. AMARC also hosts the Women’s International Network (AMARC-WIN), a large assembly of women’s communicators working to ensure women’s right to communicate through and within the community radio movement.

In 2015, AMARC partnered with UN Women 20 years after the Beijing Declaration to reflect on the progress or setbacks achieved towards gender equality. AMARC and UN Women produced an international radio campaign related to Beijing+20. The audio series offers a comparative perspective between 1995 and 2015: from where we were, to where we are now, featuring stories from participating producers around the world. The campaign aimed to enhance the understanding of the issues from the Beijing Platform for Action and to highlight what changed for women since the Conference held in Beijing 20 years ago. Additionally, enhance the understanding of the issues from the Beijing Platform for Action and to highlight what changed for women since the Conference held in Beijing 20 years ago.

AMARC offers comprehensive information on how to use audio, video and print media; how to conduct evaluations; provides links to media networks in all regions; and a collaboration space for members. 

To access the resources, see: http://www.amarc.org/

The learn more about the collaboration with UN Women, see: http://www.amarc.org/unwomen-home 

Apart from organisations and civil society groups working directly on VAWG, other groups to consider for partnerships include:

  • Civil society groups and NGOs, including those who represent specific groups (e.g. indigenous women and girls, women living with disabilities, women living with HIV, adolescents, migrants, ethnic/racial minorities, etc.). and organisers of campaigns on human rights and equality
  • Human Rights Commissions and human rights NGOs who may already be organized and are campaigning on human rights and equality
  • Frontline services, such as health, police, justice or shelter providers
  • Local independent activists or campaigners
  • Women’s community groups
  • Women journalist networks
  • Independent media producers
  • Media trade unions and/or broadcast/print media associations
  • Media self-regulatory bodies
  • Universities and training institutions focused on gender or media issues
  • Other media professionals

Groups may be drawn together through an invitation to join a network with long-term ongoing work or may bring specific partners together to undertake a targeted project (e.g. a campaign).  The strength of such networks resides in its partnership approach from the outset, which makes collaboration more likely. The media is engaged as a member in this partnership, rather than as a target, alongside groups working to end VAWG.

Networking for Better Coverage (Australia)

In 2002 in Australia, with funding from philanthropists and local government, work began to address the non-gender sensitive media reporting of family violence. A toolkit for media on how to report family violence was developed with the belief that training media on the issue would address the reporting challenges. It was quickly recognised that a more comprehensive, strategic and collaborative approach was required to address these challenges, including tight deadlines for journalists to report or beliefs that VAWG is either about isolated incidents of abuse or is simply the result of a minority group’s culture.

A strategic framework was published in 2007 with a revised and expanded version in 2015, with the support of a cross-sector committee of family violence, sexual assault and community services workers, journalists, academics, police, and government. The framework outlined a range of complementary initiatives, across various sectors, to instigate change in media awareness and in people’s ability to provide information on VAWG to media. Initiatives included supporting and training women to speak out to the media on their experiences of violence, training VAWG-sector staff to work more effectively with journalists and editors on the issue, creating newsworthy events on VAWG, and supporting media to examine gender issues within their industry and how these may affect reporting. The framework and its initiatives have been critical tools for creating a more unified ‘story’ about VAWG for the news media, and Australia has made notable changes in reporting on family violence and violence against women and girls since this work started.

For more information, see: http://awava.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Working-with-News-and-Social-Media-A-Strategic-Framework-for-Victoria.pdf

Global alliances on gender and media have emerged in a big way since 2013 to provide platforms for groups to engage in a structured manner on a regular basis towards specific outcomes.  These alliances connect hundreds of members from diverse countries. They serve various functions, including: as knowledge hubs from which to draw data and information on media practice and content; house tools and approaches that can be useful for monitoring, training and advocacy; allow for relationship building and engagement in international processes (e.g. reporting against human rights mechanisms or participation in large-scale events, such as the Commission on the Status of Women) and to undertake joint advocacy; and provide broader visibility for promising practices. 

Illustrative Global Alliances/Compacts/Networks

Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG):  Launched in 2013 by UNESCO, the Alliance works to promote gender equality in and through media. Its objectives include: to pursue gender equality in media systems, structures and content by strengthening international, regional and national cooperation in which all stakeholders work together to drive change globally; to follow-up, build on and systematically monitor implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action: ‘Women and the Media Diagnosis’, and its strategic objectives; and to develop and sustain gender and media priorities within a broad donor, government and development agency funding framework. Over 700 media organizations and individuals working on gender and media have joined. To learn more and join, visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/crosscutting-priorities/gender-and-media/global-alliance-on-media-and-gender/homepage/

Global Alliance for Partnerships on Media and Information Literacy (GAPMIL): Launched in 2013 and hosted by UNESCO, GAPMIL promotes international cooperation to ensure that all citizens have access to media and information competencies. The core objectives are: to articulate key strategic partnerships to drive media and information literacy in development focused on nine major themes (governance, citizenship and freedom of expression; access to information and knowledge for all citizens; development of media, libraries, Internet and other information providers; education, teaching, and learning; linguistic and cultural diversity as well as intercultural and interfaith dialogue; women, children and youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized social groups; health and wellness; business, industry, employment and sustainable economic development; and agriculture, farming, wildlife protection, forestry and natural resources conservation) and to enable the media and literacy community to speak and address, with a unified voice, certain critical matters, including the need for policies; and further deepening the strategy for media and information literacy to be treated as a composite concept by providing a common platform for stakeholders and associations globally. To learn more and join, visit: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/communication-and-information/media-development/media-literacy/global-alliance-for-partnerships-on-media-and-information-literacy/ 

International Association of Women in Radio & Television (IAWRT): is a global organization formed by women working in electronic and allied media aiming to strengthen initiatives towards ensuring women’s views and values are integral part of programming and to advance the impact of women in media by:  providing opportunities, sharing strategies and contributing to the development of women in broadcasting by sharing professional and technical knowledge; facilitating unique opportunities to exchange views and share experiences with the world’s media professionals; and offering professional skills in training with a focus on gender perspective in programmes, development issues and management. The Association organizes international and regional conferences, workshops and trainings for the professional development of its members; distributes awards of excellence to honour the creativity of women producers of outstanding radio and TV programmes; maintains a scholarship fund to support media studies; and supports productions, training and projects for women in developing countries. To learn more, see: https://www.iawrt.org/about

Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue Network (UNITWIN Cooperation):

Launched in 2011 and hosted by UNESCO, the Media and Information Literacy and Intercultural Dialogue University Network (MILID Network) unites universities involved in media and information literacy (MIL) from around the world. It aims to give impetus to research that can inform policies on MIL and intercultural dialogue. As of February 2019, it has 40 member and associate-member universities from all the regions. The MILID Network stands firm in advancing gender equality through the lens of MIL. In cooperation with the MILID Network, UNESCO and partners advance collaborative knowledge development and publish the MILID Yearbook annually since 2013. Each year the gender dimensions of MIL and intercultural dialogue is addressed. MIL’s as a tool to promote gender equality and human rights was one of the central themes, notably in its 2016 edition “Media and Information Literacy: Reinforcing Human Rights, Countering Radicalization and Extremism”, and its 2015 edition “Media and Information Literacy for the Sustainable Development Goals”. For more information and to join, visit: https://en.unesco.org/themes/media-and-information-literacy/gapmil/milidnetwork.

Step It Up for Gender Equality Media Compact: Launched in 2016 by UN Women, the Compact is an alliance of media organizations that have committed to championing women’s rights and gender equality issues.  The commitments include: highlight women’s rights and gender equality issues through editorial articles, features and news coverage; ensure production of high-quality stories with a focus on gender equality and women’s rights, with a minimum of two per month; ensure inclusion of women as sources in stories produced, aiming for gender parity, including across diverse subjects such as business, technology, science and engineering; adopt a gender-sensitive code of conduct on reporting; in orientation and training of staff members, ensure guidelines for gender-sensitive reporting; through gender-responsive decision-making, enable equality in the newsrooms by ensuring women journalists are given similar opportunities as their male colleagues and can cover diverse subjects from politics to business, science, sports and technology, while encouraging male journalists to also cover diverse issues, including women’s rights and gender equality stories; and ensure women journalists are provided mentors and guidance for career advancement. For more information and to join, visit:  http://www.unwomen.org/en/get-involved/step-it-up/media-compact   

Unstereotype Alliance: The Unstereotype Alliance is convened by UN Women and brings together a powerful global coalition of more than 30 industry leaders behind the common goal of eliminating gender bias and harmful gender stereotypes from their advertising. Through developing new standards and tools, the Alliance seeks to transform and unstereotype advertising; to measure these changes; to contribute research, tools and knowledge on how to do this; and to inspire the public to reject harmful stereotypes through communications and outreach. The Alliance is focused on empowering women in all their diversity (race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, language, education, etc.) and addressing harmful masculinities to help create a gender equal world. Challenging harmful stereotypes and promoting positive representations of women and girls, as well as men and boys is fundamental to changing attitudes and behaviours. Social norms not only shape perceptions, they shape actions.  http://www.unstereotypealliance.org/en

University Twinning and Networking Programme (UniTWIN) on Gender, Media and ICTs: This Network aims to advance research training and programme development in UNESCO’s fields of competence by building university networks and encouraging co-operation between gender, media and ICT scholars. The Network supports education and research on media, information and communication technologies, and specifically aims to promote gender equality and women’s participation in and through media on a global scale through: research, education and advocacy; support for training and research on media, information and communication technologies (ICTs); work to stimulate and showcase some of the most significant scholarly contributions to knowledge relating to expanding women’s participation in all media platforms. The Network consists of institutions from across regions.  To learn more, visit: http://www.unitwin.net/

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