Gender and inclusion

Within our equality and inclusion programme we support underprivileged, marginalised groups that are more likely to be discriminated against or to be forgotten in news coverage. These can be women, members of the LHBTI community, ethnic minorities and youth. We see the media as powerful actors in shaping, producing and changing societal norms and beliefs. Media are supposed to show the realities of society, and can contribute to changing this reality by making sure all the different groups in society are heard and represented.

Gender equality

Free Press Unlimited follows an inclusive approach in relation to gender; when we talk about women, we mean ciswomen (persons who self-identify as women), and non-binary people. Despite some progress in gender equality over the recent decades, all over the world the participation of women in the media lacks behind alarmingly. The media sector needs to show genuine efforts to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Our aim is that the media actively advocate for gender equality and work towards increased participation and decision-making of women in and through the media. Gender inequality in the media refers both to the content that media produce as well as the operations in the media sector itself.
 

Empowering female journalists

Female journalists in particular face harassment and discrimination while doing their job. Physical, sexual and online abuse is unfortunately a daily reality for many female media professionals. Free Press Unlimited works together with partners on empowering female journalists by improving working conditions in newsrooms and investing in the skills and opportunities of female journalists. With the Digital Rights Foundation in Pakistan we started the Network of Women Journalists for Digital Rights and published a guidebook on digital security for Pakistani journalists to help them be more resilient and equipped to work safely online. 

 

Woman recording in Mali
Photo: Zed Keita


Gender representation in the media

In many countries, both men and women are subjected to stereotyping. Women are often portrayed as housewives, victims or models. Men are typically characterised as powerful and dominant with little room for alternative ideas of masculinity. This is often culturally determined and traditions play a major role. Furthermore, women are often less visible in the news and their stories remain untold, only one in five experts interviewed in news media are women (GMMP, 2015). As soon as journalists are looking for an expert opinion, women literally drop out of the picture. 

Free Press Unlimited works together with partners on a fair gender portrayal in and through the media. For example by monitoring the representation of women by the media and the state of gender equality in their organisation. In Mali we work with Tuwindi, who sets the norm by reviewing Malian media organisations on their performance in gender equality, and follows up by distributing the Gender, Independence and Professionalism (GIP) label to those who meet the requirements.
 

Representation of youth 

Young people need reliable information about what is happening in the world and their immediate vicinity. This enables them to make informed decisions and stand up for issues that concern them, now and in the future. Almost 40 percent of the world’s population is under 25 years old. The vast majority of this group lives in Africa, Asia or Latin America, in countries that are dealing with poverty and a high level of youth unemployment. Although it is their future that is on the line, these young people are barely heard in the media and therefore have little say on issues that determine their future, like climate change, armed conflict, employment and democracy.

At the same time, young people are spending more and more time on social media. Here, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between reliable coverage and fake news. It is crucial that young people are capable of filtering the stream of news coming at them, and are able to value news correctly. This makes them less susceptible to inflammatory messages that entice recklessness like extremism, migration or fast money through the criminal circuit. That is why media literacy is also a very important focus point for us.


Our youth programme

In our youth programme we focus on three topics in relation to youth: access to reliable information, media literacy, and visibility in the media. Free Press Unlimited works with local media partners on relevant, factual programmes for and with young people. For example, in Tunisia we coach teenagers to become citizen journalists who use radio programmes and video reports on national television to draw attention to topics that are important to them. To stimulate media literacy we work with partner SACMID in Bangladesh to include media lessons in the curriculum for high school students. 

 

Youth practicing journalism in Tunisia
Photo: Free Press Unlimited/Loes Witschge


Marginalised groups

Media have the power to give numerous marginalised communities around the world a voice in their societies, allowing them to advocate for their rights. In our view, an ideal media system represents the views and interests of all communities and groups in a society. We see local and community media – independently owned by the local community they represent – as key players. They can report about the interests of their specific community in a balanced way, and so advocate for its members’ rights.

Therefore our work concentrates on building programmes with local and community media. For example in Pakistan we support local news networks like the Tribal News Network (TNN), to make sure that the widespread tribal and rural areas are not ignored in media coverage. Our partner PPMN in Indonesia has been supporting and training a large network of community media and citizen journalists to make sure important information reaches even the most remote areas.

 

For more information, please see our Gender and Media resource guide.

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