#16Days campaign calls media attention to #shadow pandemic

#16Days campaign calls media attention to #shadow pandemic

Lockdowns and curfews intended to contain the spread of Covid-19 have led to a free-fall into gender-based violence (GBV) this year. According to UN Women,“this is the shadow pandemic growing amidst the Covid-19 crisis” and everyone has a role to play to address it, including the media.

Research in preparation for WACC Global’s 2020 Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) found that while almost three quarters of the main stories in print, digital and broadcast news (1)were related to Covid-19, not a single story touched on violence against women. GBV stories are absent from the most important news of the day. Instead, the sources of knowledge about the forms and extent of GBV during Covid-19 are largely development organisations.

The quantity of news stories and depth of GBV reporting should match those about Covid-19. WACC Global calls on its members and networks to take action during the “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” campaign running from 25 November – International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December —Human Rights Day. 

Urge your local news media to bring visibility to these stories, the voices of survivors and information about the support services available.  

A special awareness is required to offer ethical journalism that challenges gender stereotypes. Reporting on violence against women carries an extra responsibility as anything short of breaking through the silence supports a status quo that minimises and excuses the impact of violence, and endangers women everywhere. 

Bring your local news media’s attention to the VAW reporting guideline in the Learning Resource Kit on Gender Ethical Journalism (WACC & IFJ, 2012. Chapter 8). 

(1) Main news stories refers to stories published on newspaper front pages, entire news bulletins on radio and television, home pages of news websites and a systematic random sample of tweets by news media organisations. The studies were implemented in China and Austria in April and May 2020.

Image: VAW-Covid datacard, UN Women


The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) is an international organization that promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community. It advocates full access to information and communication, and promotes open and diverse media. WACC has personal and corporate members in 130 countries. WACC coordinates the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) which every 5 years since 1995 has taken the pulse of gender equality and women’s rights in the world news media. The GMMP is made possible by the volunteer participation of civil society groups, associations of concerned media professionals and academic researchers in more than 100 countries. 

Tess Sison
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