Friday, November 27, 2020
The 25th of November was an eventful day for gender equality, and more specifically for female journalists. It was International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women, followed by the start of the 16 days of activism against gender based violence. It also marked the publication of data from a UNESCO-ICFJ survey on online violence against women journalists. And to top it off, the European Commission launched its biggest and most impactful piece of legislation yet on gender equality, the Gender Action Plan III (GAP III), putting forward ambitious plans for the next five years.

Let’s start with the International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women. On this day the world addresses the disproportionate violence that women have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s no coincidence that UNESCO used this day to publish its first alarming data on online violence against women journalists: 73% of women journalists surveyed said they'd experienced online violence, and 20% said they'd been attacked or abused offline in incidents they said were seeded online.

The urgency of action needed to reverse this global trend is reflected in our work, where we’ve been seeing an increase in applications from female journalists in our Legal Defense Fund, as well as in stories our partners share with us. Campaigns such as the 16 days of activism bring our focus back to these topics and help create a much needed awareness. However, once the campaigns are over, the violence unfortunately continues. That is why regulatory change and its systemic implementation are needed and why we welcome the launch of GAP III.

The EU has ambitious plans for the next five years. For example, by 2025, 85% of all new EU actions must contribute to gender equality. This includes strict rules for applying monitoring mechanisms, which is something that we support at FPU. Monitoring is extremely important in achieving gender equality. That is why, together with our partner Tuwindi, we created a gender monitoring tool called Mediascan.

A catalyst for gender equality

We hope the launch of GAP III will be the catalytic effect needed in achieving gender equality. But support from civil society is just as important for the implementation of these actions. That is why we will continue to offer free courses for female journalists on online harassment – visit our Totem page to find out more. Furthermore, we will keep making joint efforts and advocate for these issues in international coalitions, such as the IWMF Coalition Online Abuse that we recently joined. Gender equality is an important priority at Free Press Unlimited and we will continue our own efforts in achieving this important goal.