Tuesday, 12 August 2014 17:32

Gender equality on the radio (2014)

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Gender pay gap must end, says IFJ


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.

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 

The important findings from the research done in 2011 are:

1.The system of law protecting women against violence fails to deliver service as one unit. The system which is supposed to work as a system functions in a haphazard disjoint manner.

2.A serious lack of awareness among the women about the existing remedies if still prevalent. This is evident from the drastic difference observed between the number of people opting for remedy under 498A and under DV Act.

3.Success rate of a petition under the section 498A is starkly low and this happens due to two reasons, firstly absence of evidence and secondly lack of professional help or deficiency in the quality provided.

4.While there are possibilities of misuse, such possibilities are low, while there is also a possibility and in most cases which are dismissed there have been instances of violence according to the police which do not have sufficient evidence to be adduced. The view was confirmed by many lawyers.

5.There have been enough safeguards provided in law to control the abuse of law beyond which a safeguard would eclipse the efficacy of the provisions.

33 normal Chandra Iyengar releases GMMP 2010 India Report 1024x768

Chandra Iyengar releases the GMMP report at the Mumbai Press Club.

29 September 2010 was the global launch date of the several reports (global, regional and national) emerging from the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010.The GMMP 2010 looked at 1,365 newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites, 17,795 news stories and 38,253 persons in the news in 108 countries with 82% of the world’s people. 

The findings of the report ‘Who makes the news’ unfortunately reveal that women are still under-represented and misrepresented in news media coverage, despite significant change since the project began 15 years ago. 76% of the people heard or read about in the world’s news are male. The world seen in news media remains largely a male one.

Some of the findings of the report: 

  • 24% of people in the news are female, compared to 17% in 1995. 44% of persons providing popular opinion in news stories are female compared to 34% in 2005.
  • News media show significant gender bias with 46% of news stories reinforcing gender stereotypes. 
  • 13% of news stories focus centrally on women.
  • Women in occupations outside the home are not represented in proportion to their real presence. 
  • Expert commentary is overwhelmingly male with only one female in every five experts. 
  • The age of women in the news is mentioned twice as often and family status almost four times as often as for men.

Today female reporters are responsible for 37% of stories compared to 28% fifteen years ago, and their stories challenge gender stereotypes twice as often as stories by male reporters.

Gender bias in Internet news is similar to and in some respects even more intense than that found in the traditional news media.

This year, for the first time since India began participating in the five-yearly GMMP process (1995, 2000, 2005), a national report has been produced to specifically present the results of GMMP monitoring in India. GMMP research in India, conducted by volunteers across the country, was coordinated by NWMI. The media monitored here include 20 dailies, 11 TV news bulletins, and 5 radio bulletins, together representing 9 languages. Some findings from analysis of data from India:

  • Women constituted less than a quarter (22 per cent) of the people heard or read about in the news (i.e., as news subjects) across all topic categories in India. 
  • Only 22 per cent of the news subjects who were also sources of information (news sources) were women.
  • 78 per cent of the news sources were men. 
  • Only 12% of the news stories had women as the central focus (i.e., focussed specifically on one or more women). That is marginally less than the global figure (13%). 
  • Only 5 per cent of the news stories highlighted gender equality or inequality, again marginally less than the global figure (6 per cent). 
  • Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of the news stories reinforced gender stereotypes while only 9 per cent challenged them.

The GMMP global and national reports were released in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore on 29 September, to coincide with the global launch. In Mumbai NWMI collaborated with the Press Club of Mumbai to organise the event. In Delhi NWMI and the Indian Women’s Press Corps jointly organised the function, and in Bangalore the Centre for Development & Learning hosted the event.

The 2010 report contains a plan of action for media professionals and others committed to gender-ethical news media. 

The GMMP is the largest and longest running research and advocacy initiative on fair and balanced gender representation in the news media. It is coordinated by WACC, a global network of communicators promoting communication for social change, in collaboration with data analyst Media Monitoring Africa, and with support from the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

Full reports (global, regional, national) and more information are available at

Monday, 30 June 2014 11:35

Freelance journalism unpacked

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75 normal Journalism Final CoverNow, a book that tells you everything you wanted to know about freelance journalism but were afraid to ask. By Charukesi Ramadurai

Violence and harassment against women in the news media: a global picture reveals the findings of a survey of nearly 1,000 female journalists and provides the first comprehensive picture of the dangers faced by many women working in news media around the world.

"Critiques of media coverage of sexual violence in general and rape in particular tend to focus primarily on sins of commission. While some of these—such as sensationalism and prurience—are professionally indefensible, others are more complicated: the amount and type of detail to be included in news reports,

NWMI Bangalore meeting, February 9 to 11, 2007

Paper presented by Dilrukshi Handunnetti, Editor-Investigations and Political Correspondent, The Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka

Is there any reasons for the Indian media to show collective interest in covering Sri Lanka’s raging conflict? If yes, what are they?

It is now an established fact that several Tamil militant groups including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) received military training in different parts in India since the early 1970’s. This fact was never reported in the Indian media at that time. The state did not recognise this fact either. Politically, this extension of support was interpreted to be an indication of India’s unofficial assistance to a northern Tamil movement to carve out a separate homeland/state. Official war broke out in 1983 with the killing of 13 government troops and the Sinhelese responded with a terrible ethnic backlash. When violence escalated in the north and there was significant delay in sending essential supplies to the north, the Rajiv Gandhi administration air dropped dhal and rice to “feed the starving Tamil population”. This diplomatic faux pas soured Indo-Lanka relations drastically. Then came the political phase. In 1987, the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord was signed between Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardene to move towards a political settlement.
As a consequence, power was devolved in Sri Lanka through the setting up of provincial councils.
Indian troops, known as the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) arrived in Sri Lanka to assist government forces to militarily crush the LTTE and other militant organizations operating in the north. The IPKF was soon in open conflict with the LTTE. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu by a LTTE woman suicide bomber named Thenmuli Rajaratnam. He was on a political campaign.

How does the Indian media cover the Sri Lankan conflict?
For this exercise, three journalists were tasked to survey the Indian print and television media. The ad hoc survey covered the period of 2000-2006 December. The survey led us to reach the following conclusions.

The Sri Lankan conflict was one of the most reported and less analyzed stories in India. The spill over effect has not caused Indian media to report the many angles to the conflict from the Indian perspective. Any kind on reporting on Sri Lanka could be largely classified into two categories-the promotion of the country’s image as an exotic and historical land or as the war torn neighbour.Regular reporting of incidents such as casualties, bombings, capture of land and increasing refugees to some extent gets recorded in the Tamil Nadu media.The Hindu has a Colombo correspondent and Narayan Swamy reports from New Delhi. It is obvious that one of the biggest stories as well as a human tragedy is of no significance. The general Indian reporting on the Sri Lankan conflict, despite the serious political and security implications to India appeared event- based. Different regions/states covered the conflict differently.

North — Largely event-based. More political angles covered such as pace talks, Norwegian facilitation and Premier Manmohan Singh’s regular appeals to the Colombo administration to resume talks. The stories dealt with statistics than issues. There were few reports on the humanitarian crisis. More knee jerk stories.
South — There was consistent coverage. The South also had a lot of local stories. The coverage was broad. The stories/clippings urging support for the Northern Tamil populations. Some were full of advocacy- ie; the need for a separate Tamil homeland in northern Sri Lanka. A few stories traced the historical relations between South Indian and Sri Lanka. With the outbreak of war in 2006, wave of fresh reporting ensued on the question of Sri Lankan refugees. Following the 2002 truce between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some 70,000 Sri Lankan refugees returned to Sri Lanka. At that time, a little over 200,000-made South Indian camps their home. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Karunandhi and General Secretary, MDMK, V Gopalaswamy alias Vaiko dominated the stories.
A positive phase in reporting was experienced during the same period. There was a fair balance of reports based on statistics as well as issues. More opinion pieces published. Humanitarian crisis significantly covered.
Assam — Was more radical in reporting. There was a certain level of advocacy. Largely sympathetic to the Tamil cause.The overall reporting showed lacked in depth coverage and a serious lack vibrant discussion. Event based reporting. The above despite serious political and security implications for India.

SRI LANKA — Politics of presence and the invisibility of women
Women representation at the dialogue level. No women have been included in the island’s peace process in a real way. Cosmetic representation was given to women when Housing and Public Amenities Minister and a Muslim political party leader, Ferial Ashraff was included in the government delegation during the only round of peace talks held since the ascendancy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The LTTE also included a woman during the same round of talks.

Women as experts — There are no women experts generally commenting on the peace process, conflict or the political aspects of the same. There isn’t a strong enough voice raised by the elected women legislators as well. Some women activists focus on human rights, the humanitarian crisis and psychological needs of victims of war. Few women have done academic work — Dr. Rajini Thiranagama who was critical both of the government and the LTTE and wrote a book titled the “Broken Palmyra” was killed in Jaffna by the LTTE
Government forces — Employs women but none of them have ended as the commander in chief or as chief of staff, the two top ranks Only two years ago, SLAF began recruiting women as cadet pilots Women perform non-combatant duties in all three forces. No woman has reached beyond a certain rank in all three armed forces. The only woman who reached a rank of recognition was Premila Diwakara, a Superintendent of Police (SP)

LTTE cadres — LTTE has a separate women’s brigade named “Malathi”. The Liberation Tigers recruit child soldiers, both male and female children. Women were originally used for LTTE propaganda work. Later women began performing a special duty within the LTTE frame work — as human bombs

Women journalists less visible in conflict coverage
Just a handful have entered this beat when they do, they cover the conflict from Colombo by analyzing reports or dealing with the political aspects. There is still competition from male colleagues to secure this beat women reporters are less likely to be given a beat that is considered “extremely male”
Women perceived by most editors to be lacking in depth knowledge about conflict, war strategy and peace initiatives. Considered physically less capable of working in the conflict ridden zones
The visits to conflict areas are either military sponsored or sometimes, LTTE assisted. Either way, neither party allows easy access to all areas or to information. Both sides offer a distorted and biased picture. However, the coverage of the conflict by women demonstrated diversity with more angles being covered. Women reporters emphasized on the humanitarian crisis, about health, hygiene, child recruitment, soil and water contamination, psychological needs, environmental degradation and women as victims male reporters in contrast confined themselves to confine reporting to events, military strategy and statistics.

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