WACC General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter (far right) making a presentation during the plenary session.
The Dec. 7-8 International Development Cooperation Meeting on Media and Gender is located at the Palais des Nations and is co-hosted by the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG) as well as several other U.N. agencies and the governments of Greece and Lebanon.
The conference is seeking views as to what global development actors can do through partnership, to optimize the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in and through the media, fostering sustainable and human-rights based development worldwide.
In her presentation, WACC General Secretary the Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter said that gender equality in the media and the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals belong together – especially goals #5 and #10:
Achtelstetter spoke at plenary session 4: From dialogue to action: announcement of initiatives/projects and voluntary commitments. She presented the results of the WACC-supported 2015 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), which found that, on a worldwide basis, women make up only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly the same results as seen in the previous survey in 2010.
“The gender inequality gap has narrowed by only 7% in 20 years and ground to a halt between 2010 and 2015,” Achtelstetter said.
In the world depicted in the news, she said, “only 20% of the total workers in the formal labor force are women, while 67% of the unemployed and stay-at-home parents are women. We know from real world statistics that women are at least 40% of workers in formal paid employment.”
Gender stereotypes also have remained firmly embedded in news media output over the past decade, the GMMP shows. Only 4% of stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes, a 1% change since 2005.
Achtelstetter also noted that international development efforts have “failed to give sufficient recognition to the role the media play in gender equality struggles in political, economic, and socio-cultural arenas. The media are an often ignored cog in the wheel of gender inequalities playing out in people’s lived experiences. Discriminatory social and cultural norms propagate, justify, and normalize belief systems, attitudes and practices that lead to inequalities between women and men, girls and boys.”
She further noted that GMMP 2015 has set the ambitious goal to end news media sexism by 2020 with specific indicators for gender policy adoption in newsrooms and reporting that supports gender equality objectives.
In addition, “there should be more effort put towards exploring the role of women in community radio/media and its impact with regard to sustainable development. There is great need to ensure that gender inequalities are not reproduced in these places and to offer a challenge to traditional news outlets that, according to the findings of GMMP 1995-2015, continue to ignore fundamental rights to freedom of expression,” she stated.
“We in WACC hope that these initiatives directly reinforce the Global Alliance for Media and Gender’s Framework and Plan of Action to promote and address gender equality and women’s empowerment in media systems, structures, and content,” Achtelstetter concluded.