“Women remain relatively invisible in media coverage of traditional security issues, despite their active participation on all sides of a conflict. Women are also, if not combatants themselves, the wives, partners or daughters of combatants. Further, they are caught in the crossfire of war and armed conflicts through sexual exploitation including the use of rape as a “weapon of war”.” (Learning Resource Kit for Gender-Ethical Journalism, WACC/IFJ, 2012).
The 16 days of activism against gender violence run from November 25, the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and end on December 10, International Human Rights Day. These dates symbolically link violence against women and human rights, and emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation.
This year, the campaign theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!” Announcing the theme, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership explains that the “culture of militarism builds on and protects systems of power by controlling dissent and using violence to settle economic, political and social disputes. Militarism draws on and perpetuates patriarchal models of political, economic, and social domination of people by a small number of elites and privileges violent masculinity as acceptable behavior”. Three priority areas identified for the 2014 campaign are: violence perpetrated by State actors; proliferation of small arms in cases of intimate partner violence, and, sexual violence during and after conflict.
The Global Media Monitoring Project (2010) research in 108 countries found that women comprise 21% of news subjects in stories about peace, negotiations and treaties, 18% of news subjects in stories about war, terrorism and state-based violence, and 13% of subjects in stories about national defence, military spending and internal security. Women however are equally, if not more, impacted by and implicated in these issues. These statistics suggest structural patriarchal underpinnings in news media practice that render the experiences, opinions and aspirations of women less visible in news content. The relative invisibility and lack of voice obstruct understanding, curtail response and close the space available to women to influence relevant policy agendas.
In the spirit of the 16 Days Campaign 2014 theme, four* ways in which the news media can apply a gender lens in reporting about peace & security, in order to contribute to ending violence against women:
1. Value the knowledge, expertise and information available from women’s networks, especially those with a recognised focus on media/communications, peace and security. Consult them for expert commentary.
2. Ask the question “where are the women?” for all sides of a peace agreement especially if there are no women visible or no women are signatories to an accord.
3. Ask the question “what does this mean for women, young women and children?” Find the women at the local level who can bring a gender dimension to the story. They may not be in visible formally organised groups, but they will no doubt be actively participating in informal collectives.
4. Women are not a homogeneous group. Speak to different women – from different social classes, ethnicities, political and other affiliations. They will add depth and interest to the story, speaking from their varied perspectives.
*from Reporting guidelines on peace and security in the Learning Resource Kit for Gender-Ethical Journalism, WACC/IFJ, 2012.Back To Top