Friday, February 21, 2020
The crucial role of the media in achieving gender equality has been recognised more than 25 years ago. It’s a strategic objective in the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the key global policy document on gender equality. Unfortunately, in the 25 years that Beijing Declaration has been in force, there has been little to no progress on this strategic objective. In a joint statement, we and nine other international organisations, share our concerns with the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

Women in the media

The strategic objective in the 1995 Beijing Declaration aims to: ‘increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision making in and through the media and new technologies of communication’ and to ‘promote a balanced and non-stereo-typed portrayal of women in the media.’ However the data shows that:

  • women only make up 24% of the people seen in, heard and read about in newspapers, television and radio. 
  • 46% of news stories reinforce gender stereotypes while only 4% of stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes. Women are frequently portrayed in stereotypical and hyper-sexualised roles, which has long-term social consequences.
  • 20% of the experts interviewed by media are women. 
  • 73% of the management jobs are occupied by men compared to 27% occupied by women.

Agents of change for gender equality

This current gender inequality needs to change! Together with The Carter Center, Fondation Hirondelle, Global Alliance on Media and Gender, International Media Support, International Women’s Media Foundation, Media Diversity Institute, RNW Media, World Association for Christian Communication and WAN-IFRA we developed a statement in which we strongly emphasise the role of the media as agents of change in achieving gender equality. We urge the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) to take action and make a priority of the role the media can and should play in achieving gender equality. We and the signatory partners are already actively promoting gender equality in and through the media. However coherent policies, rules, and mechanisms on all levels, starting with national media policies and media industry self-regulation are needed in order to achieve significant change.

Gender-sensitive content

We strongly believe in the transformative role media can play in achieving gender equality in societies. By creating gender-sensitive and gender-transformative content and breaking gender stereotypes. By challenging traditional social and cultural norms and attitudes regarding gender perceptions both in content and in the media houses. By showing women in leadership roles and as experts on a diversity of topics on a daily basis, not as an exception.

Commission on the Status of Women

Free Press Unlimited will attend and engage in the upcoming 64th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) taking place from 9 to 20 March 2020 in New York. The Commission on the Status of Women is the United Nations organ promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. It convenes a yearly meeting in March for two weeks at UN Headquarters where representatives of UN Member States, civil society organisations and UN entities gather. The progress and gaps in the implementation of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action will be discussed and reviewed this year.

Furthermore together with other organisations, Free Press Unlimited is organising a parallel event at the CSW64 on 'Counter-Stereotypical Narratives: A Gain for Stigma-Free and Inclusive Media' which will be held on March 13th, at 12.30 PM in the Blue Room. 

Download and read the joint statement