The UN theme for International Women’s Day 2009 is ‘Women and men united to end violence against women and girls’. The Global Media Monitoring Projectcoordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)in 2005 found that only 1% of news stories worldwide focus ongender-based violence. Yet, according to UNIFEM, ‘violence againstwomen and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one outof every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced intosex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime’. The Who Makes the News? report of the 2005 Global Media Monitoring Project observes that ‘Innumerableevents and incidents of gender-based violence occur daily but newsvalues and news priorities apparently decree that these are not'newsworthy'. Their scale and magnitude is thus hidden from the public.’
TheGlobal Media Monitoring Project found that even when gender-basedviolence makes the news, the incidences are reported in a manner thatnormalizes such behaviour, rendering it inconsequential and thussanctioning its perpetuation. A UN Expert Group Meeting in Vienna in2008 concluded ‘media representations significantly influence societalperceptions of acceptable behaviour and attitudes. Training journalistsand other media personnel on women’s human rights and the root causesof violence against women may influence the way in which the issue isreported and thereby influence societal attitudes’.
WACCcommends efforts by media practitioners to eliminate reporting thattrivializes and normalizes gender violence by developing and followingnon-discriminatory journalistic guidelines. The Guidelines forReporting on Violence against Women issued in November 2008 by the International Federation of Journalists are a laudable example.
Thenext Global Media Monitoring Project in November 2009 will collect dataon selected indicators of gender in news media worldwide, to determinewhat changes have ensued since the media monitoring of 2005. Oneimportant aspect will be the changes in reporting on gender violence.
WACCcalls on individuals, groups and organisations to collaborate with uson the next global media monitoring day in November. Volunteermonitors are needed in every country. Details on how to get involvedare available at http://www.whomakesthenews.org/.