Recently there has been much discussion of the underrepresentation of women in the media industry. It can be easy to lament about the situation, difficult to understand the reasons, and even more difficult to actually do something about it. How can an industry work towards gender equality, when many other industries and the culture at large reflect these biases?
Enter UNESCO’s Women Make the News initiative. This advocacy initiative, starting with International Women’s Day and lasting through April 30, aims to promote gender equality in the media across the world. According to a UNESCO report, women make up 36 percent of reporting jobs and 27 percent of management jobs in media companies worldwide. This year’s initiative focuses on the difficulties for rural women to access media, and gives those in the industry suggestions of how to participate.
Here’s a summary of their list:
1. Entrust women with editorial responsibility.
2. Submit your stories here about any thoughts, experiences, or recommendations about women in the media. Does your company have a specific policy addressing the issue? Have you covered gender issues? What challenges did you encounter?
3. Spread the word. This will no doubt be easier through blogs and social media.
4. Educational institutions can help mainstream the topic by hosting discussions, panels and debates.
5. Produce programs on the topic.
6. Organize on-air debates and discussions with broadcasters, academics, policy-makers, etc.
7. Give voice to communities through phone-ins on radio shows.
8. Interview media personalities about the theme.
9. Disseminate multimedia content, of which UNESCO has a bunch.
10. Get free multimedia content from UNESCO’s Audio Visual E-Platform.
11. Read up—UNESCO has done extensive worldwide reports on gender equality in the media.
12. Join the National Commission for UNESCO to participate in events.
13. Celebrate the day with your fellow media organizations at the World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC).
Today marks the 101st International Women’s Day, which was first celebrated in the U.S. on March 8th in 1909. People have been tweeting to @womensday and Google came of with a new doodle to promote awareness. A couple BBC journalists compiled their experiences into a list of tips for women journalists reporting on the front line. How will you be celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day? Have any tips for female journalists out there?