and men

Women´s Issues After Beijing
Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women
Positions - Networks - Results

Chapter III

The Twelve Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action: A Women´s Agenda for the Twenty-first Century

10 Women and the media: use the media for the advancement of women

During the past ten years, advances in information technology have brought about a global communications network "that transcends national boundaries and has an impact on public policy, private attitudes and behaviour, especially of children and young adults". The Platform sees this as a major opportunity which has not yet been exhausted: "...potential for the media to make a far greater contribution to the advancement of women everywhere".

Technological change offers new opportunities

New opportunities have emerged, but old structures have remained in place. It is true that in the meantime more women have been represented in the media, but only very few have attained senior positions or serve on boards that influence media policy. Since Nairobi, very little has changed in the way women are projected in the media. Gender-based stereotyping and out-dated behavioral patterns are still dominant. With this in mind, the Platform argues for change: "The continued projection of negative and degrading images of women in media communications ... must be changed. Print and electronic media in most countries do not provide a balanced picture of women´s diverse lives and contribution to society in a changing world".

Structures hostile to women remain in place

Women need not only more influence on content, programming and media policy, they need better access to information technologies which have significantly expanded since Nairobi. Both technical competence and influence on programming will strengthen women´s ability "to combat negative portrayals of women internationally and to challenge instances of abuse of power of an increasingly important industry". Apart from self-regulatory mechanisms for the media, concepts for the elimination of gender-biased programming should be developed.

More technical competence and programming influence for women

Strategies and actions to be taken

Governments are urged to promote full and equal participation of women in the media. The same applies to access to management, programming, training and research. In appointing their representatives to management and regulatory bodies of the media, the Governments are required to aim at gender balance.

Promote full and equal participation of women

The producers of programmes should be encouraged to increase the number of programmes by and for women. The media should become more involved in social and development issues and pay attention in particular to the interests and concerns of women. In this context, the Platform also mentions programmes for the dissemination of information on various cultural forms of indigenous groups.
Women should participate in self-regulatory mechanisms which ensure non-stereotyped portrayals of women by the media. Gender-sensitive programming must start with the training of journalists. Women should not be presented as inferior beings whose exploitation as sex objects and commodities appears legitimate. Rather, it should be made clear that sexist stereotypes constitute a form of degrading discrimination. In the Platform, appropriate legislation is seen as indispensable to combat pornography and the projection of violence against women and children in the media.

Correct stereotyped projections

However, media and advertising organizations should do more than refrain from presenting violence or discrimination, they are also called upon to pay more attention to women´s real concerns in a positive sense. Media campaigns should promote the equal and fair sharing of family responsibilities. Women must not be reduced purely to the role of passive consumers in the media, as is still largely the case at present, but should be presented in positive, active roles as "creative human beings, key actors and contributors and beneficiaries of the process of development".

More attention to women´s concerns

More information about violence against women and the girl-child in public life and in the family should contribute to limiting the tendency to use force. In order to increase public awareness of the human rights of women, appropriate media campaigns must be designed and implemented.

Media campaigns against violence and for human rights

The media should establish internal commissions to ensure higher priority for women´s concerns in programmes.
Women´s organizations, other NGOs and media professional associations should create networks which facilitate the increased participation of women in international communication. The South-South and North-South dialogue among these organizations should be supported in order better to protect the human rights of women and to promote equality between women and men. Traditional indigenous forms of media should also be used in these networks to disseminate information on development and social issues.

Create networks for dialogue among women world-wide

The media networks of women for the exchange of views and the dissemination of information require international promotion. New communication systems which enable more women to participate in democratic processes are also worthy of support.


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© Friedrich Ebert Stiftung | technical support | Net Edition mv&ola | Oktober 1997