Discriminatory Practices Against Female Anchors in Egypt

A root cause for the underrepresentation of women in news media is the result of an intersection of ageist and body-shaming discriminatory practices. According to the GMMP 2015 Global Report, ageism is demonstrated in the results that women between the ages of 50-64 years old are the least present age group of women in news media. Women in this age category are only present 23% of the time in comparison to their men counterparts of the same age range who are present 77% of the time. Meanwhile, the gender gaps for the age categories for both 19-34 years old and 35-49 years old hold a difference of 10% between men and women's presence. Such statistics confirm that ageism in news media outlets is present in order to maintain the sexist ideology of having young women anchors who are more “appealing to the eye" on television.

Ageist practices are not the only form of discrimination in news media. According to a news story from Agence France Press (AFP), last week in Cairo, eight women working as news anchors were dismissed from their positions due to the fact that they were seen as overweight. Women's bodies are continuously viewed as more important than their skills and experiences in the industry, as evident in the fact that these women were not suspended due to their work performance or knowledge and skills, but rather due to their appearances. In Egypt, there is a shared ideology that female news anchors should maintain certain beauty ideals, which is held not only by some of the audiences, but also by Ms. Safaa Hegazy, who is the director of state-run Egyptian radio and television; a woman in an executive position of the country's news media sector who had previous experience as a news anchor herself.

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Image Source: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

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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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In my view, society is less tolerant of sexist stereotypes in the media now than three years ago.

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