Nanu Khadka leads the gender media monitoring project by Nepalese organisation Freedom Forum, which focuses on freedom of expression and media issues. She investigates how the biggest national and local media portray women, and speaks with them about how to move towards greater gender equality.

"Women are very much underrepresented in the media sector in Nepal. Only 15 percent of all articles in print and online media includes a woman. Women are also presented in a very stereotypical way. Most stories that are based on women show them in a submissive role, as someone's wife or someone's mother. 

Moreover, females are not paid the same as their male colleagues in media and their stories are pushed back to second pages. We see a very important role for media organisations in promoting gender equality because media itself is an advocacy tool. To press the media sector to play that role, we have started our gender monitoring project. 

Since 2016 we have been monitoring the content of major media houses in Nepal on how they represent women by scanning by-lines, sources and photos. Every three months, we send a report of our findings to the media we have examined, and visit them to have a conversation and give recommendations. We have seen positive changes. For example, government-owned newspaper Rising Nepal previously did not mention any female reporters in the by-lines, but after our report we counted nine. 

We find that media houses are now more aware of the importance of gender equality in their newsrooms, but progress is very slow. In the various discussions we have, media editors and owners say it’s not an easy task to increase female representation because there are fewer competitive women. But they are out there, if we just give them the opportunity.

So I tell the government officials, journalists and editors we talk to, please go and approach them. You have been bringing male voices for many years. Try to seek information from female voices. This will be the most important step in breaking with stereotypes, because more female voices will come up and show that women are not just the housewives, they also work at the top in decision-making roles.”