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Media Monitoring report: No gender equality in the media

By Aurelious Simon Chopee

Global Media Monitoring Project GMMP results released on Monday has indicated that  gender disparity in media representation in most countries has widened with only women making up only 24 percent of the persons heard, read about  or seen in newspaper, television and radio news worldwide, exactly the same level found in the 2010 report.

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 According to the report, women make up about 50% of the general population but only 24% of the persons heard, read about.  This brings progress towards equality of men and women in the news media virtually to a halt. The study also found out that only 26% of the people in Internet news stories and media news Tweets combined are women. The GMMP is a project of the communications advocacy agency WACC, with support from UN Women. The first such survey of gender portrayal in news media was conducted in 1995 and at five year intervals after that. GMMP 2015 is the largest research and advocacy initiative in the world on gender equality in and through the news. UN Women has supported the survey twice consecutively.

“The media have the potential to be an enabler of faster, more substantive gender equality and women’s empowerment, or a barrier to it. This report is a wake-up call to media houses and newsrooms.  Gender discrimination deprives media coverage of the balance and authority that diverse perspectives bring,” said UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “The ways in which women are depicted in the media have a profound effect on societal attitudes and reinforce traditional gender roles. Women and girls are half of humanity. Giving equal time and weight to their stories, featuring them as positive models not victims, plays an under-appreciated part in creating a better, freer world for all of us.”  

  Dr Sarah Macharia, GMMP global coordinator said the report, which examined the visibility , voice and mention of women in the news media finds sexism that has endured across decades and geographical boundaries, adapting to emerging media forms and thriving in all spaces in which news content is produced and shared.

The publication of the results of the survey point to the urgent need for an end to sexism in media by 2020.

“Many detailed findings from the 2015 GMMP paint a picture in which unequal gender power relations are entrenched and validated, and in which gender stereotypes are replicated and reinforced by the world’s news media,” says media and gender scholar Margaret Gallagher in the foreword to the report.

The Rev. Dr Karin Achtelstetter, WACC general secretary, stated:  “News and news media are powerful forces that help shape the way people view their society and themselves, and contribute to how people act – at home, schools, work, through to the political choices they may make.”

She continued. “The fact is, the portrayal of women in day-to-day journalism does not reflect their contribution to society. We need focused commitment and efforts from media houses, regulatory agencies, training institutions and civil society to raise professional standards and truly provide leadership about what constitutes ethical freedom of expression.”

The study also found out that women remain more than twice likely as men to be portrayed as victims as they were a decade ago at a ratio of 16 percent for men to eight percent for women. It also discovered that 37 percent of news stories in traditional media are reported by women showing a global glass ceiling for female reporters, while in online media outlets, 42 percent of news stories are reported by women. 

“News representation of women misses the full picture. Globally women hold approximately 40% of paid employment while large proportions work in the informal sector especially in the Global South. However, according to news content, only 20% of the formal labor force are women, while 67% of the unemployed and stay-at-home parents are women” the GMMP reports.

Women comprise 38% of personal experience testimonies now compared to 31% in 2005. 

The study further discovered the distinct regional differences in the overall presence of women in the news. In North America, it is discovered that there is the narrowest gender media gap (36%) while the Middle East has the widest at 18%. Latin America has narrowed the gender gap most dramatically over the last 20 years, from 16% in 1995 to 29% in 2015.

GMMP 2015 is the largest research and advocacy initiative in the world on gender equality in and through the news. The 2015 report includes data from 114 countries and provides analysis and case studies at global, regional and national levels, including trends detected since the first GMMP was conducted in 1995.  In 1995, data was collected from 71 countries.  Participation has grown for each subsequent GMMPs held in 2000, 2005 and 2010 and 2015.

The GMMP is coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), a global network that promotes communication rights for social justice and sustainable development, working with people of all faiths and none. The worldwide media monitoring is implemented collaboratively with women’s rights organizations, grassroots groups, media associations, faith-based / interfaith organizations, university students and researchers across the world.

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