How is gender equality represented in the media in EU?

The Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) organised on Monday (26/06/2017) a hearing on gender equality in the media in the European Union. The main goal was to provide information for the upcoming own-initiative report, which will be written later on in the year. The rapporteur is Czech MEP Michaela Šojdrová.

Lenka Vochocová from Media Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Prague, Donatella Martini, the director of DonneinQuota and Martine Simonis, General Secretary at the Belgian Association of Journalists (AJP) talked about the current situation of women at different positions in the media sector and analysed the relation between gender stereotypes and the media industry.

According to the figures from global media studies, only around 37 % of stories are reported by women, said Vochocová. “It has been like that for ten years now; we are witnessing a real stagnation,” she commented. Only 17 % of women generally work in the newspaper industry. Females are still mostly seen more suitable as television journalists, where the ones older than 30 years get fewer opportunities for employment than the young. “Older women who are good at their job also have less chance of proceeding,” said Vochocová. In general, female journalists are left in the lower ranking positions and are a minority in management, where there are three times more male managers than female.

The experts highlighted the need to discuss sexism and to find tools on how to prevent it. Mrs. Martini also recommended introducing a legal definition of sexist advertising and establishing a reporting mechanism. As a good practice, Martine Simonis pointed out Expertalia, the database for interviewing female experts and showing people that there are plenty of women experts. “Usually, nine out of ten people interviewed are men. And there is only 6–7 % of women journalists in sports. Women are extras in sports, politics and similar areas,” she said.

Simonis drew the hearing’s attention to the International Federation of Journalists’ (IFJ) campaign on gender-based violence at work, which is a part of the Global Trade Union Movement in support of the ILO convention. Currently, a proposal is under discussion, as they are campaigning for a new international labour convention to tackle the various forms of gender based violence that occur in the world of work. The campaign’s statistics show that half of women media workers have experienced sexual abuse, one quarter have experienced act of physical violence and three quarters have experienced intimidation, threats, abuse.

Simonis also stressed the importance on the IFJ’s Byte Back’s campaign about online harassment of women journalists in Asia-Pacific. Data shows that almost two-thirds of the women journalists polled by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) had experienced intimidation, threats or abuse in relation to their work. More than 25 % of “verbal, written and/or physical intimidation including threats to family or friends” took place online.