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UN Women Launches a Landmark Media Compact to Foster Gender Equality

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By J Nastranis | IDN-INPS News Analysis


BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN | INPS) – The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women, has launched an innovative partnership with media organizations from every region of the world that work in print and broadcast or are online news media to ensure wide reach and robust efforts towards women’s rights and gender equality.

While Goal 5 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka explained the rationale behind the move.

“Media have great influence over how we perceive and understand the world around us. That influence has many dimensions. Even when reporting is entirely factually accurate, if it is reported predominantly by men, about men, it is actually misrepresenting the real state of the world. At UN Women, we want to address this through partnership to change the media landscape and make media work for gender equality,” she said.

“This level of support and leadership from media houses and newsrooms alike is what is needed to ensure that we can achieve gender equality and women’s rights by 2030,” she added.

Mlambo-Ngcuka’s view is underscored by the fact that women constitute nearly half of the world population of 7.4 billion. But in spite of a series of measures taken by the international community and some of national governments, men continue to dominate all walks of life. A case in point is the United Nations which has had eight men as Secretaries General in the 70-year old history of the world organization.

Against this backdrop, there is now a concerted bid to ensure that the ninth UN Secretary-General would be a woman. At this critical juncture, the Step it Up for Gender Equality Media Compact launched on March 22 at the UN Headquarters in New York, during a packed side event of the 60th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is a significant move.

More than 35 leading media outlets from around the world have committed themselves to increase women’s representation in the newsroom and in news content. More are expected to join in the coming months.

Acknowledging the influential role media can play in driving women’s empowerment and gender equality, the Media Compact, facilitated by UN Women, will function as an alliance of media organizations that are committed to playing an active role in advancing gender issues within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The outlets will implement the compact by scaling-up the focus on women’s rights and gender equality issues through high-quality coverage, complemented by gender-sensitive corporate practices. Leading up to the launch event, more than 35 leading media outlets signed up as founding members of the Media Compact. From grass-roots to national and international media players, the diverse group of initial members reach millions of readers and viewers in Africa, Arab States, Asia-Pacific, Europe and Latin American regions.

By signing up to the Media Compact, the outlets are committing to a range of concrete change actions: championing women’s rights and gender equality issues through editorial articles; ensuring inclusion of women as sources in stories produced, aiming for gender parity; adopting a gender-sensitive Code of Conduct on Reporting; ensuring women journalists are provided mentors and guidance for career advancement, and many others.

Speaking at the New York launch event, which was moderated by the Under-Secretary-General of the UN’s Department of Public Information, Cristina Gallach, media representatives from South African Broadcasting Corporation, Good Housekeeping and TV Azteca of Mexico all founding members, were unanimous in their support of the newly launched partnership, underlining that they will engage continuously through the Media Compact to push for gender equality in their news coverage and their newsrooms.

Step it Up for Gender Equality Media Compact’s founding members include: AllAfrica, AMARC (World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters), Al Wasat (Bahrain), Cambodia Centre for Independent Media, Care2, Citizen News Service (India), Dawn (Pakistan), Devex, El Telégrafo, (Ecuador), Eurovision Regional News Exchange for South East Europe – ERNO, France 24, Good Housekeeping, Guatevision (Guatemala), and Gulf Daily News (Bahrain).

Other members are Instituto Patrícia Galvão (Brazil), Monte Carlo Doualiya (MCD), Naewna Group (Thailand), Nómada.gt (Guatemala), Philanthropy Age, Pravda, Reportaje De (Guatemala), South African Broadcasting Corporation, Siempre Mujer, Teen Voices, The Daily Star (Bangladesh), The Express Tribune (Pakistan), The Jakarta Post (Indonesia), The Jordan Times, The National (UAE), Thomson Reuters Foundation, Radio France Internationale, UN Dispatch, UN News Centre, Voice of Democracy (Cambodia), Women’s eNews, Women’s Feature Service (India).

“Many more are expected to join the Media Compact in the coming months,” UN Women said in a media release.

UN Women will ensure the following for Step it Up Media Compact partners:

Listed as a partner on UN Women’s website and announcement through UN Women’s social media channels.

Content dissemination and amplification: UN Women will amplify content on gender equality and women’s rights written/produced by the media partners through its wide network of UN Women’s social media channels and via distribution to our 90 offices worldwide.

Free content: As part of the Media Compact, partners will receive editorial content in advance – produced on a regular basis – by UN Women’s editorial team in New York and its offices in more than 90 countries. This includes thought-leader op-eds, feature stories, infographics, first-person narratives, photo essays, videos and much more. Step it Up Media Compact partners can use the content produced by UN Women free of charge, with a reference to UN Women as the source of the original content.

Insider’s access: Media Compact partners will get priority when they request interviews with UN Women’s top officials, in New York and in other parts of the world. As part of the Media Compact, they will also be the first to receive advance notice of upcoming events hosted by UN Women, with regular access to UN Women’s media team for up-to-date information. As a partner, they will gain special access to the organization’s events at UN Women offices/UN Secretariat in New York, or internationally, through which they can undertake backstage coverage of certain high-profile events, and pre-event interviews.

Exclusive focus: On a whole range of topics, UN Women experts can provide exclusive on-the-record or background briefings. These interactions are one-on-one conversations, designed to assist research and facilitate in-depth stories.

Connecting the dots: UN Women has offices in 90 countries. The organization can connect the dots and facilitate introductions to grassroots groups and field colleagues who are experts on the issues as well as the geo-political landscape.

Champion of the cause: For media partners interested in a non-reporting role, UN Women can explore a role at UN Women events, such as that of a moderator and/or speaker.

UN Women was created in July 2010 by the General Assembly as part of the UN reform agenda, bringing together resources and mandates for greater impact. It merges and builds on the important work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system, which focused exclusively on gender equality and women’s empowerment: Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI); and UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). [IDN-InDepthNews – 22 March 2016]

IDN is the flagship of International Press Syndicate.

Photo: UN Women/Bruno Demeocq

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