Saturday 12 March 2011 – Islamabad: The findings of a 2 months media content analysis of the popular print, electronic media were shared at a consultation with the senior media personnel. The event was organized by UKS and ILO on 12th March 2011 here in Islamabad.
The findings suggest media’s representation of reality normalizes the exclusion of girls and women; they remain at the periphery of news despite the fact that for several decades now women have inserted themselves into public spaces that were once exclusively male domains. For instance, the flexibilization of labour led women to waged employment outside the home in addition to their unpaid work in the home. Public spaces are where events that make the news happen. Another startling finding is that 46% of stories reinforce gender stereotypes, almost eight times higher than stories that challenge such stereotypes (6%). The fact remains that both Print and Electronic Media continue to portray stereotypical images of women. Such as show-casing of women as a wife or a mother or for that matter a coy, submissive, suffering woman or so to speak someone meant exclusively for the home and in certain cases as another woman's enemy.
Speaking on the occasion, ILO official Frida Khan urged media to look into the news with gender lens. She said that the news items on minimum age do highlight that minimum age is often flouted, but from gender perspective, women are paid far less than men, sometimes 70 per cent less than men.
“Business pages often talk about seafood sector as an important economic sector and what needs to be done to improve it. Reports often centre on the quality of fishing boats, the length of time fishermen are at sea and how that affect the freshness of catch, but there are not any news that look at the work women do in sorting the catch, cleaning the fish, separating the fish that is going to be packaged and rejects that going to go into chicken feed,” she said.
There is a massive disconnection of factual on ground realities and the policy makers, because of this communication gap, affirmative action and policy reforms are delayed and the efforts of many women who are contributing towards the economy go unrewarded and unrecognised. Woefully enough, women's issues appear to have little coverage in mainstream media and are classed as soft beat. As a result media is not emerging as a potent instrument of doing justice to true role of women in society. The ILO in collaboration with Uks built the capacity of Women Journalist Group to analyse the selected media reports through a gender lens, and to look for missed opportunities in covering news that could have made a difference in a woman’s life if reported otherwise.
While talking about some challenges that are common to world of work, be it the media; Rashid Rehman, Editor Daily Times said that glass ceiling and glass walls exist everywhere but Pakistani women have successfully broken these barriers. And affirmative action is much needed in the media itself as much as it is needed anywhere else.
A unanimous recommendation was reached by the participants that media should ethically report to fight gender stereotypes and to combat aggressive behaviour. And compelled that ILO should partner with media as a stakeholder and build its capacities through:
• Orientation and dialogue on gender and work
• Research and training of media personnel at all tiers
Some renowned media experts shared their views on the role of media in promoting rights of women for a gender equal society; these included Amir Mateen- the News, Fahad Hussain, Director News- Duniya TV, Huma Amir- Express TV, Asma Shirazi- SAMAA TV, Rana Jawaad, Bureau Chief - GEO TV, Hasan Khan, Director News and Current Affairs- Khyber TV and Badar Alam, Editor at Herald.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Saifullah Chaudhry
Senior Programme Officer/ Media Focal Person
ILO Country Office for Pakistan, G-5/2, Islamabad
Tel: +92 51 2276456-8