With women across the world marking the annual International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March 2010, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) has highlighted gender inequality in the media as a pressing issue.
‘Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all’ has been the global United Nations theme for this year’s IWD
Since 1911, International Women’s Day has been an occasion to celebrate achievements in women’s empowerment. It has also been a day to reflect on women’s struggles and the structural barriers that continue to impede their progress – in society at large, and for people of faith, in religious organisations and traditions.
“Over the past fifteen years progress towards gender-responsive media has been painfully slow,” says WACC, as demonstrated by the preliminary research results  of the Fourth Global Media Monitoring Project
In 1995 just 17 per cent of the persons seen, heard, or read about in mainstream radio, television and print news were women. Fifteen years later, women’s presence in the news remains dismally low, says WACC/GMMP. They still constitute only 24 per cent - less than one quarter - of the total number of people recorded in the news.
The rate of progress in other indicators of gender in the news has been equally painful, say researchers. In indicators on the sex disaggregation of reporters in news stories, for example, 15 years ago 28 per cent of news stories were reported by women.
In 2010, the statistic has risen to 37 per cent, an increase of only nine per cent over 15 years, or 0.6 per cent per year. More evidence on the slow progress is documented in Who Makes the News?, the Global Media Monitoring Project 2010 Preliminary Report, backed by WACC.
“The World Association for Christian Communication calls on individuals, groups and organisations to act in order to accelerate the pace of progress towards gender-equal, gender-fair media,” a spokesperson said.
UNESCO is also running a ‘Women Make the News’ campaign, which WACC and other advocacy groups are urging people to support and get involved with.
The GMMP preliminary research can be viewed here: http://www.whomakesthenews.org/news/2010-preliminary-report.html