Call for gender-balanced media on Women’s Day

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Staff Reporter
Twenty-five media development organisations from all over the world, including Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), have called upon all media leaders and journalists around the globe to take action against the skewed balance and representation of gender in the news – both in terms of numbers and in portrayal. In joint statement issued for the International Women’s Day 2020, they stressed that a balanced presence of women and men in news and current affairs would better reflect the composition of society. However statistics show that media is far from balanced: A majority of media content portrays women in stereotypical roles such as homemakers, models or victims. Women are more likely than men to be referred to in terms of superficial attributes such as appearance, age, clothes and marital status. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be portrayed as powerful public figures, with the media focusing on profession, skills and opinions. This perpetuates a limiting and unequal perception of gender. Only 4% of all newspapers, radio and TV reports worldwide challenge gender stereotypes. Only 24% of news subjects – the people who are interviewed, or whom the news is about – are female. Women are used as experts only 19 % of the time. In 16 % of news that relates to politics and government, women are the subject of the stories. The numbers are not only indicative of the media sector’s gender inequality challenges but is also a serious impediment to media development and democracy. A functioning democracy requires gender equality and the media need to do much better to contribute to this goal. Media have the power and responsibility to challenge stereotypes in content production and together we need to set an example for current and future generations.