European Federation of Journalists

International Women’s Day: EFJ stands up for the safety of women journalists

Credits: Photo by Joppe Spaa on Unsplash

Ahead of the 8th of March, the EFJ warns that the safety of women journalists is under threat in many countries.

International Women’s Day commemorates the defence of all women’s rights and in particular the rights of women at work, whether paid or unpaid. Women journalists are also workers facing various discriminations such as the pay gap, the glass ceiling, difficulties in balancing professional and private life, and gender-based violence at work, to add to the increasingly precarious working conditions. It is time to put an end to these inequalities, to stereotypical reporting on women in the media and to establish truly equal newsrooms. 

Sexist attacks and gender-based harassment, both in the workplace and online, have become a severe concern. In a 2022 survey of women journalists worldwide conducted by UNESCO and the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ), 73% responded that they had experienced some form of online violence in the course of their work. Threats of physical violence (25%) and sexual violence (18%) are particularly acute for women journalists – 13% even described threats of violence against their loved ones, including children and babies. It is important to remember that only 55% reported the attacks online while a quarter did not receive any support from their employer.

The consequences for women’s mental and physical health are enormous: 79% of harassed women suffer from stress and 49% fear for their life, according to RSF 2020 global report. But there are also professional consequences such as self-censorship in 48% of cases.

“Women journalists must be guaranteed safety in the workplace and in the exercise of their profession, including online, as part of their labour rights,” said the chairs of the Gender and Diversity Expert Group of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Elena Tarifa and Lina Kushch.

The newly created EFJ Gender and Diversity Expert Group calls on:

  • media companies to develop equality plans to end gender discrimination in the media, such as the pay gap, sexist language, gender-based attacks and difficulties in reaching decision-making positions in the media;
  • media companies to develop specific protocols against gender-based violence, both in the workplace and online, and to include safety requirements in their contracts;
  • governments and institutions to develop specific laws and actions protecting women from gender-based  harassment online, with the cooperation of digital platforms;
  • governments to take urgent action to enforce laws ensuring gender equality, specifically ensuring work and family balance for all workers, by extending parental leaves and promoting new time uses, and against gender-based violence.
  • journalists’ organisations to include a gender perspective, including safety issues, in collective bargaining, and to provide specific support and services to women journalists who are targets of sexist attacks;
  • journalists, both men and women, to fight for equality and against gender discrimination, as well as against all forms of discrimination, and to denounce gender-based violence in the media;
  • Journalists and media workers to join the international, national and local actions held by feminist movements on this day to raise awareness of inequalities women are facing every day.