The Association of Mongolian Journalists called attention to gender issues in the Mongolian media by sharing a recently concluded survey that indicates 65 per cent of media employees are women and over 80 per cent of journalism students are women. Mr.B.Galaarid, President of the AMJ, introduced the aims, targets and application of the UNESCO GSIM and pointed the importance of gender issues in the Mongolian media. Gender-sensitive reporting is not just about the percentage of female reporters.
Mongolia has a Gender Equality Policy and is implementing a mid-term strategy that runs through to the year 2016. This was introduced at the meeting by Ms. M. Bolormaa, Secretary-General of the National Committee on Gender Equality. “The recently-established pilot Media Council, which is seeking to introduce media self-regulation in Mongolia, could also work to increase gender sensitivity of media organizations,” she suggested making particular reference to gender equality at decision-making levels, building capacity of journalists as well as newspaper, television and website associations.
Ms. M. Bolormaa also noted that “Media is a powerful tool… all your words are being transmitted directly to the people…so you have to be highly responsible. As I observed, in our society the journalists run after sensational news and cover issues from their own perspective. So the journalists have to start changes within themselves.”
Globe International Centre (GIC) President, Ms. Naranjargal, explained how UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media could be tailored to the context of the Mongolian media sector. “Gender equality brings harmony to society; it is the issue of integration of the voices of women and men for sustainable development,” she said.
Having carefully reviewed the five categories of UNESCO’s indicators, participants identified modalities for their adaptation to the Mongolian media context. They concluded with recommendations for the development of a pilot strategy that would allow the media sector to effectively use the indicators. There was positive feedback indicating that pilot activities would elevate media reputation and credibility and facilitate the introduction of new standards of practice in policy and management. The National Committee on Gender and Equality and civil society organizations are expected to take on leadership roles the design of the pilot strategy.
The consultative meeting was organized by the Mongolian Globe International Center (GIC) in cooperation with the National Committee on Gender Equality (NCGE) and the Association of Mongolian Journalists (AMJ). The project received some support from UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).
The exercise started with a training workshop on media statistics in Nay Pyi Taw, led by UNESCO´s Institute of Statistics (UIS) and targeting the staff of the Ministry of information, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology as well as private media organisations (22-23 May). It was then followed by a two-day Media Development Indicator-based (MDI) training workshop in Yangon from 28 to 29 May 2014 addressed to the project’s core research team from the Journalism Department at NMC, IMS and UNESCO representatives. The workshop was conducted by media development expert, Steve Buckley, and it provided the 13 participants with an introduction to the extensive list of media indicators. The participants were also trained on the various tools and resources available to them.
Myanmar has seen substantial media reforms in recent years, and many more are in the way, especially in areas such as media legislation, media ownership systems and media diversity.
Establishing a Consultative Committee to guide the process
To ensure national ownership of the assessment and its recommendations, a Consultative Committee consisting of representatives from across the media sector was formed to advise the team on the research process and recommendations.
The Committee met for the first time on 30 May 2014 in Yangon. The meeting was attended by 11 members representing nine organizations spanning the government, civil society, media and educational sectors.
During the meeting, the Committee provided the research team with valuable insight on the implementation of the MDI indicators and gave its suggestions on maximizing the impact of the report’s recommendations.
Committee members urged the researchers “not to simply take the findings they gathered at face-value, but to delve deeper to ensure that their findings reflected the reality on the ground”. They also called for the research to be “broad-based and inclusive, in order to ensure that the findings would be sufficiently representative and allow for meaningful and relevant recommendations to be made”.
With the knowledge gained from the MDI training workshop, the research team will now formulate a comprehensive research plan – in close liaison with the Consultative Committee – and start the groundwork needed. Preliminary findings will be reported to the Third Media Development Conference to be organized in Yangon in September this year. The final report is expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2015.
The project involves equipping journalists and media professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves when working, and establishing a strong network for monitoring and peer assistance. It is expected that it will contribute to fostering a safer working environment for journalists and media professionals, increasing freedom of expression and, ultimately, strengthening peace and democracy in Viet Nam.
RED will organize a two-day training workshop in the third quarter of 2014 to strengthen the capacities of 25 media professionals and media management officials. Participants will learn about media laws and regulations, particularly in the area of journalists’ safety, and acquire skills for peer assistance in this area. A set of Guidelines for Peer Assistance for Safety of Journalists will also be developed, in collaboration with senior journalists.
RED will establish by October 2014 a Monitoring Network and an online interactive forum on its website. This will be a platform where best safety-related practices and protection mechanisms will be shared among journalists and media professionals in Viet Nam.
The project is part of the follow-up to the Global Forum on Media and Gender that was convened by UNESCO and partners in 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand.
In Thailand and in the Asia-Pacific region, women in the media are still significantly underrepresented at decision-making levels, in senior management positions, and in the newsgathering and news dissemination processes. In addition, gender-based stereotypes are pervasive in commercial advertising and the entertainment industry, often reinforcing gender prejudices and the misrepresentation of women
This project is focused on the application of UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM). The GSIM are a tool which media organizations can use to assess their gender sensitivity, formulate necessary strategies and policies, set measurable goals and monitor progress towards the achievement of gender equality in and through the media. A GSIM manual tailored to Thai PBS will be produced in early 2015 based on the findings from this exercise.
Within the framework of this project, a series of training workshops will take place in Bangkok in October and November 2014. These comprise a one-day seminar in Bangkok with 10 media executives at Thai PBS with a focus on gender balance at decision-making levels; and a two-day training workshop with 20 Thai PBS journalists and media content producers, with a focus on fair gender portrayal in news, current affairs and advertising.
BMI is an association of 11 independent news organizations operating in regions where conflict and the peace process are ongoing. The new media platform will serve as a site both for sharing and exchanging ethnic-based news coverage about the peace process, and for preserving ethnic languages and cultures by educating the public on the history and culture of the different ethnic communities in Myanmar.
A one-day orientation session and two five-day workshops will be organized with 15 ethnic media groups to establish the online-media management team and to develop editorial policies and procedures for running the platform. Ethnic communities will be encouraged to upload and exchange news and information in print and broadcast formats, and share their views and opinions on the peace process.
Cooperation and networking among media practitioners, bloggers and citizens of different ethnic backgrounds is seen as critical to foster greater cultural understanding, tolerance and building a deep-rooted peace process. National and international media are being encouraged to access the published content and disseminate the stories produced by ethnic media groups. The project is expected to conclude in early 2015.
Strong and independent ethnic media are vital to Myanmar’s transition towards democracy. Many ethnic minority media groups have been abroad since their establishment due to long-standing media restrictions imposed previously. However, with the ongoing media reforms, Myanmar ethnic media groups have been allowed greater freedom to operate inside the country and are gaining more acceptance by the government and mainstream media.
The largest ethnic media community in Myanmar cooperates through Burma News International (BNI). Despite the ethnic and cultural diversity of the new organizations which form the network, they all share a common vision – to provide a platform for their communities to be part of and engage with the political changes ongoing in Myanmar.
These two events are the starting point of a comprehensive evaluation of the media landscape in Madagascar. The research will be conducted under the supervision of UNESCO by the Centre for Communication Research (CERCOM) of the University of Antananarivo, a potential centre of reference in journalism education in Africa. The study will inform an in-depth review of the media sector in Madagascar, in a context of transition after major political changes in the country since the end of 2013. The results of the assessment and recommendations arising from this study will be adopted in a participatory manner during a General Assembly of the media in Madagascar which is planned for later this year under the auspices of the national authorities. Studies of the same type have recently been completed by UNESCO in Egypt, Tunisia and Nepal.
The workshop was attended by 20 student and researchers with the goal to familiarize them with the UNESCO methodology based on the Media Development Indicators and to empower them to do carry out a quality assessment. The training has not only produced a research action plan but also allowed for a better understanding of the key elements to consider when using the Media Development Indicators. It also involved a detailed analysis of the five categories of MDIs.
During the final evaluation of the training, one participant noted how he appreciated "the encouragement to interact and share working documents among colleagues and representatives from UNESCO and UNDP, as well as the clear guidance provided". Another participant who participated in the workshop indicated that he can now use the indicators, which will permit him and the team to better use the methodology.
The consultation meeting was designed to clarify the role of the Advisory Committee in the research process and also presented the media development indicators. The Advisory Committee will create a bridge between the assessment and national stakeholders and help to ensure national ownership of the evaluation process. The Advisory Committee is composed of representatives of UNDP, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), the print and broadcasting media, academic institutions and civil society.
Professor Liu Liqun, Director of the Media and Gender Institute of CUC and UNESCO Media and Gender Chair holder, noted in her keynote speech that one of the reasons to promoting gender-awareness in mass media is the clear understanding, rational and objective judgment on the status of gender-awareness in mass media. She also highlighted the importance of training journalism educators, and expressed the wish that the conclusion of this IPDC project leads to further enhancing gender-awareness in Chinese media.
The UNESCO Chair on Media and Gender at the Communication University had launched the project in November 2012, aiming to pilot UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators in Media (GSIM) in selected Chinese newsrooms. Throughout 2013, CUC’s Chair conducted a media monitoring based on GSIM assessing gender awareness and gender sensitivity with eight Chinese media outlets. The outcome of the monitoring report shows that gender stereotypes are often prevailing while reporting, and that various types of gender-based violence are sometimes reported unprofessionally in the news, often because of socio-cultural reasons and lack of gender-sensitive awareness among media practitioners. The report also recommends localizing GSIM in China.
At the seminar, media managers from the organizations involved in the project implementation shared their understanding of GSIM and put forward future plans for further promoting GSIM in their institutions and daily work.
On the occasion of this year’s International Women’s Day, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, stated: “As we approach the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference and the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and as we shape a new global sustainable development agenda to follow 2015, we must ensure that women’s empowerment and gender equality stand at the heart of all of our work to craft a better future.” During the seminar, Andrea Cairola, from UNESCO’s Beijing Office, encouraged media organizations and professionals in China to further take advantage of UNESCO’s GSIM as a tool for advancing gender equality in their respective work.
The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development. The Programme not only provides support for media projects but also seeks to enable media capacity building. In the UNESCO Beijing cluster countries, in recent years, IPDC has supported a number of projects related to the promotion of freedom of information, improving the media landscape in the ethnic minority areas, supporting community radio in Mongolia, and promoting gender awareness and gender sensitive reporting.
The session, held on 11 April and moderated by Dr Tchiadeu Gratien, a climatologist in the Department of Geography at the University of Douala, focused on journalism education as a ‘window of opportunity’ for introducing climate literacy into the classroom – and eventually into the newsroom.
Unveiling UNESCO’s recently published book Climate Change in Africa: a Guidebook for Journalists, Fackson Banda, programme specialist responsible for journalism education and knowledge-driven media development at UNESCO HQ in Paris, outlined the educational, democratic and developmental benefits of climate change journalism for African countries.
Another UNESCO publication introduced was the Compendium of New Syllabi, with Banda drawing the over 50 participants’ attention to the module on science journalism and bioethics, incorporating climate change.
The participants, who included teachers and students from Cameroon, Burkina Faso and France, decried the near lack of authoritative reporting on climate change, welcoming the UNESCO publications as important tools in the journalistic struggle to raise public awareness of the issue.
However, while many participants thought the books would be a useful resource, several wondered how the resource-constrained African media could undertake meaningful investigative climate change journalism, and asked if governments would provide an enabling environment.
In response, Banda informed the participants of UNESCO’s intergovernmental International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), including its annual grants for initiatives aimed at improving both the regulation and practices of media organisations in Africa.
The meeting recommended that students and teachers of communication and geography collaborate in their research projects on climate change and communication, drawing in insights from both disciplines to better shape the interdisciplinary basis of adaptation and mitigation of climate change.
The colloquium, held from 10 to 12 April, was the third in the series, with over 200 participants drawn from Cameroon, Canada, Belgium, Burkina Faso and France.
The three-day workshop focused on UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators (MDIs), a tool for assessing media development in a given country that can identify areas in which assistance is most needed. The associated Journalists’ Safety Indicators were also introduced.
Participants in last week’s workshop praised the rigor and breadth of the MDI framework, which they said could provide a valuable tool for media research and development in the Arab region.
The MDIs “provide an excellent opportunity for gathering information that is badly needed in this part of the world,” said Nabil Dajani, Professor of Media Studies at the American University in Beirut. “I have been trying for years to collect such information. With this approach you can come out with facts, with information that is really relevant and that will help develop the media situation in the Arab world.”
Dima Dabbous, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the Lebanese American University, agreed, calling the MDIs a “wonderful way of measuring or mapping progress” through a common methodology that can be used by researchers in different countries.
Both participants also saw the MDIs as a pedagogical method that they could bring to their university courses to train future media researchers.
For Mohammed Abdulrahman, Partners and Intenational Development Coordinator at Radio Netherlands Worldwide, the training workshop was “vitally important” for his work in developing partnerships with media organizations in the Arab region, by providing a way to assess the strengths and needs of potential partners.
The workshop also allowed participants to exchange with other researchers with shared interests from across the region.
“I will leave this conference not only having learned more about the MDIs themselves, but also with a large network of Arab professionals with whom I can connect later on to do more research in this common field,” said Dabbous.
In addition to the benefits to the participants, the workshop was also strategically important for UNESCO’s ongoing work to promote freedom of expression and media development in the Arab region.
MDI-based assessments have been completed in 11 countries and are currently underway in 18 others. In the Arab region, such assessments have been completed in Egypt and Tunisia, are underway in Iraq, Libya and Palestine, and are planned in several other countries.
“Through this regional workshop, UNESCO was able to achieve two important objectives,” said Saorla McCabe, coordinator of the MDI initiative. “Firstly, it allowed us to build a pool of potential partners for future MDI-based assessments in the Arab region, comprising high-level media researchers with excellent knowledge of the region. Secondly, we could fine-tune the Organization’s approach to applying the MDIs in this particular context, through an interactive discussion on the most appropriate research methods and data sources, challenges and opportunities.”
The workshop was supported by two regional extrabudgetary projects: Promoting an Enabling Environment for Freedom of Expression: Global Action with Special Focus on the Arab Region, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and Promoting Freedom of Expression in Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen, financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
UNESCO’s Media Development Indicators were endorsed by the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in 2008.
They have since been recognized internationally by major actors in the media development field, including the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, the Council of Europe, the International Federation of Journalists, International Media Support, the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Doha Centre for Media Freedom.