#GenderAnd campaign challenges media sexism in India

by Val Kalende

The 2016 Global Gender Gap index ranks India in 87th place, while the country is rated the 7th largest economy in the world according to the latest World Bank figures. Despite the progress made in narrowing the gender divide in sectors such as education, politics and health, women in India barely make the news. The 2015 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP)* findings for India revealed that only 21% of the subjects and sources in Indian mainstream news stories are women, 7% of subjects and sources in political news, 10% in economic news and 33% in stories about science and health. Only 6% of stories clearly challenge gender stereotypes, albeit two points higher than the global average, and 18% incorporate a rights perspective.

The Indian Express newspaper is running a month-long campaign that features gender-focused news stories designed to challenge gender stereotypes and give women and sexual minorities a fair share in news coverage. “All of June, indianexpress.com will put out special stories with a gender lens, each looking at these intersections critically to assess how gender sensitive/inclusive anything in India is,” the paper’s website says. From stories on #GenderAnd culture to #GenderAnd education and #GenderAnd development, the campaign aims to focus the news spotlight on topics in which women are hardly heard. For instance, one story highlights the struggles of scientists in academia and career, profiling an astrophysicist and a rocket scientist whose achievements contribute to dispelling gender stereotypes.  

Mainstream newspapers often relegate gender issues to the weekend edition, special feature, and women magazine sections.  The challenge for news media companies and journalists is to exercise their professional obligation for fair, balanced and non-discriminatory reporting as prescribed in media ethics codes. Gender-fair practice demands a gender lens for every issue across all news reports.

The End News Media Sexism by 2020 (ENMS) campaign encourages transformation of news media by amplifying campaigns such as #GenderAnd. The campaign also aims to influence change in media policy and practice by presenting evidence on how gender-ethical news reporting helps shift cultural perceptions of women’s role and place in society.

Read the #GenderAnd article series at indianexpress.com.

Image: Series of #GenderAnd stories featured in the Indian Express. Source: Indianexpress.com

*The Network of Women in Media (NWMI) coordinates the GMMP in India since 2010.

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Advancing gender equality in media

In my opinion, the most effective strategy to achieve gender-sensitive media is:

Increased gender-awareness training of media professionals
Greater action by audiences to hold their media accountable
Stricter enforcement of gender-focussed media codes and policies
More female journalists, editors and media house managers

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