Research (31)

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 17:21

Women and the media at the United Nations 2003

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The participation and access of women to the media is among the themes to be addressed by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women during its 47th annual session. The CSW, an inter-governmental body comprising 45 member states, assemble at the UN headquarters in New York on March 3 for its customary two-week session.

A critical part of the Commission's work is its contribution to the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women held in the Chinese capital in 1995. Section J of the Beijing document relates to women and the media.

This year the Commission is expected to review two thematic issues:

  1. "Participation and access of women to the media, and information and communication technologies, and their impact on and use as an instrument for the advancement and empowerment of women."
  2. "Women's human rights and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Two expert group meetings were organised by the UN Division for the Advancement of Women, in association with other UN entities, in preparation for the gender and media theme at the CSW session. One, which concentrated on information and communication technologies (ICTs), was held in Seoul from November 11 to 14, 2002; the other, which focussed on the participation and access of women to the media, was held in Beirut from November 12 to 15.


The Beirut meeting, which was attended by 19 women from different parts of the world, besides several members of the UN system, was a rewarding experience for most participants. The remarkable consensus that characterised the meeting had much to do with the apparent convergence in understanding and approach among women working in different ways in different types of organisations in different countries marked by different social, cultural, economic and political environments, as well as different media and communications systems.

The most interesting aspect of this meeting of minds on gender and the media was the revelation that thinking across the globe had moved forward and outward. The fresh thinking reflected a clear-eyed appreciation of the fact that the dramatic transformations in the global media system in recent times had fundamentally altered the media and communication scenario.

Participants agreed that the changed circumstances demanded a broader framework for understanding and dealing with issues relating to women's access to and participation in media and communication. They suggested that the question of women and / in the media had to be placed within the context of democracy and development, incorporating the concept of women's rights as human rights.

They pointed out that since both the status of women and the status of the media were critical to development and democracy, debates about women's rights, on the one hand, and communications systems, on the other, needed to be integrated. They proposed that women's concerns about their access to media and their right to freedom of expression and communication be acknowledged and taken into account in all discussions on matters relating to the freedom, ownership and control, and structures of the media.

It became clear that, in this context, traditional questions relating to the portrayal of women in the media and the entry of women into media professions could no longer be seen or tackled in isolation. While concerns about these critical issues remain relevant, and were indeed discussed in considerable detail, the fresh approaches that emerged at the meeting demonstrated a more holistic understanding of media and communication systems which, in turn, had spawned more pragmatic goals and strategies.

Four documents from the Beirut meeting, which elaborate these ideas, can be found on the UN Women website, in addition to the official final report emerging from the EGM, they include two backgrounders on the global situation as well as an online discussion relating to women and/in the media, and one paper on issues of access and decision-making in the media in India.


Tuesday, 07 January 2014 16:07

Gender pay gap must end, says IFJ 2012

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March 7, 2012: The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) marked the 101st International Women's Day by calling on media organisations to end the persisting gender pay gap in journalism. The IFJ published, jointly with WageIndicator, Gender Pay Gap in Journalism, a global report which shows that women journalists continue to face persisting discrimination in wages and benefits.


"The struggle for equality in media remains the reality," says Beth Costa, IFJ general secretary. "The report proved that little progress has been made to end [the] gender pay gap."


According to the report, women journalists are paid 17% less than male colleagues in Europe, 9% less in former Soviet Union countries and 4% less in South America. In addition, women journalists receive less employment benefits (such as health insurance, pension and holiday allowance), which aggravates the inequality in wage levels. As a result, women journalists are less satisfied with their jobs and working conditions. 


The report points out that the pay gap increases with age. Women aged 30 and 45 years face the biggest pay gap when they stay out of a job to take care of children and thus accumulate less tenure for pension and lose seniority. 


Further, "Women journalists face the same dangers as male colleagues, and are sometimes more vulnerable to harassment and bullying, yet they are paid less for the work of equal value," says Mindy Ran, chair of the IFJ Gender Council. "And they have less job security." 


The IFJ says more measures need to be introduced to end the gender pay gap, such as implementing a pay audit, increasing opportunities for flexible work, improving maternity and paternity rights, removing barriers to building seniority and promotion, and implementing gender-aware collective bargaining. 


Data in this report are important “both as a weapon against those who believe the fight for equality has been won, and for policy makers, governments and trade unions to plan further, concrete actions to tackle it," says Ran. 


The IFJ along with WageIndicator has launched a Decent Wage Campaign to raise journalists’ awareness of their rights to decent pay and working conditions.


To respond to the wage survey, please visit

WageIndicator is an independent non-profit foundation which aims for transparency of the labour market by sharing and comparing data through its network of national websites. 


The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 134 countries worldwide 

Research from the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) in the US finds no change in Hollywood’s portrayal of women since 1950. Males outnumber female movie characters 2 to 1. But when present, females are twice as likely to be involved in sexual scenes. And both males and females are increasingly involved in violence.

The research that analysed 855 top 30 box-office films from 1950 to 2006 shows that women have been consistently underrepresented as main characters for at least six decades. The ratio of male to female characters has been steady at about 2 to 1 over this time period.

In a further analysis, female characters were found to be twice as likely to be seen in explicit sexual scenes as males, while male characters were more likely to be seen as violent. Nevertheless, violence in films has increased over time for both male and female main characters. The study, authored by Amy Bleakley, Patrick E. Jamieson and Daniel Romer of the APPC, was published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“We were surprised to see the same representation of women today as was prevalent in the 1950s,” said Dan Romer who co-authored the study. “With women increasingly playing major roles in all walks of life, Hollywood appears to remain in the mindset of a much earlier era.”

The final sample consisted of 20,073 5-minute segments from 855 top-grossing movies. Trained coders assessed each segment for the presence of sexual and violent content. Sexual content included kissing (on lips), nudity, sexual behaviour, or sexual intercourse, implicitly or explicitly shown, but the authors differentiate between kissing on the lips and more explicit content such as complete nudity or intercourse. Violent content was defined as intentional acts (e.g., to cause harm, to coerce, or for fun) where the aggressor makes or attempts to make some physical contact that has potential to inflict injury or harm.

“It’s disheartening to see that unbalanced portrayals of men and women persist in popular films,” noted Amy Bleakley, the lead author of the paper. “Movie-going youth – the largest consumers of movies per capita – who are repeatedly exposed to portrayals of women as sexual and men as violent may internalise these portrayals.”

“One concern about pushing for greater inclusion of women in today’s films is that women may be put into more violent roles, a trend we observed for both men and women,” added study co-author Patrick E. Jamieson. “Such characters would not represent the many roles that women are playing in the world today compared to 1950.”

Data from the study were collected as part of The Coding of Media and Health Project (CHAMP) at the APPC. The project evaluates media portrayal of risky health behaviours across time and advances the scholarly community’s understanding of its influence. It covers popular films, television, music and music videos, and includes sex, violence, tobacco, alcohol, drug use, and suicide. CHAMP has content analysed more than half a century’s worth of top 30-grossing movies since 1950, for a total of 855 films.

April 26, 2012



On World Press Freedom Day 2012, the International Federation of Journalists in collaboration with many partners in South Asia produced a report reviewing regional developments that have impacted freedom of the press and the quality of journalism. Like the nine previous reports this is part of the the South Asia Media Solidarity Network's continued effort at building foundations for united cross-border action by the area’s journalists.


Journalism in South Asia is facing many challenges with physical security being a major issue in most of the region. Several countries may have improved relatively due to decisions to reduce the risks involved in reporting highly sensitive stories. Though all countries in South Asia have formal guarantees of a free press in their written constitutions, formal and informal censorship persists. Further, the crisis of livelihoods within the profession is growing. Journalists in the region have responded to these challenges by in diverse ways.


Read the summary here and the complete report here (IFJ-Asia Pacific website; May 2, 2012)



Friday, 27 December 2013 14:21

Free speech in India 2013

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From three in 2011 and five in 2012, there have been 8 deaths of journalists in 2013. The rise in the number of instances of censorship this year and increasing surveillance, bode ill for free speech in India.

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