<font size="4">Europe Tour Report</font>
February 6-11, 2006
By Parul Sharma, India coordinator (BNEU, AINEF)
A group of ten women journalists from India visited Europe from February 6 to 11, 2006 on a mission under the project ‘Europe and India: Building Paths to Equality in Journalism’. The project, funded by the European Union’s EU-India Economic Cross Cultural Programme for India, is being implemented by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Brussels, 6-7 February
In his welcome speech, Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ said that this mission tour under the project is very important to create a bridge between women in journalism in Europe and women in journalism in India in order to share experiences on what is achieved and what yet needs to be achieved. “Women journalists need to learn from each other the ways to organize, the ways to try to achieve things together. We have launched this programme to do this in a number of ways. First of all, we want to give the information about what the situation really is through the survey that was carried out in India. Secondly, we need to identify the specific areas where there are problems and analyse them. Thirdly, we need to address the question of status of women in journalism in India and the way media treats issues related to women and uses stereotypes”.
He said that this programme was not about setting guidelines to tell journalists what to do, but to start the debate on emerging points, questions on stereotypes. In all, how to make these issues a part of trade union work, negotiations and the collective bargaining process. “It is the problem everywhere that the unions are not emerging as responsible organizations. Sometimes the unions themselves are very conservative; sometimes their leadership is very strongly male. They are not sensitive about these issues. If you look at the number of women who sit on the board of executives of the unions, you see that actually the glass ceiling is operating very effectively in trade unions as well as in the professional world. How do we get our unions to change? We want to make these issues as trade union issues as well. The major part of the programme is exchange of information, coming, talking with their counter parts in Great Britain, Germany, and Brussels, seeing how these issues are very much a part of the process of the project so that Indian journalist go back with more information, more enthusiasm more able to deal with these questions. We have also set up a web site and comprehensive programme”.
Aidan White explained that the programme had been launched because the European Union was anxious to try to give a platform to the unified approach existing in Europe. “In India there are better political relations with Great Britain because of historical traditions and a much better understanding relations with U.K and Germany”.
Pamela Moriniere IFJ gender officer, said that the IFJ action plan on gender started in 2001 at the IFJ Seoul Congress. “There are a number of issues we urge our affiliates to implement at national level and within the unions such as equal pay, representation of women journalists in decision making bodies, portrayal of women in media, child care and parental leave. The IFJ action plan for gender equality is based on a 2001 survey. According to that survey 12% women represented 12% of the profession in Asia with only 0.1 in decision making positions. In Europe, women represented 40% of the profession but only 3% held decision making positions. We are currently updating these figures, both in Europe and in India”, she said.
Based on the 2001 survey and Seoul action plan, the IFJ set up a gender council. The gender council meets in Europe and wherever IFJ congresses take place (every three years). The group addresses the implementation of the IFJ action plan and policies on gender equality at international, regional and national. The IFJ is currently managing a project on ‘Portrayal of Women Politicians on T.V. in Europe’.
Indian news in Europe (INEP) editor, Nawab Khan, talked on his experience in Europe and in particular in Brussels. He explained that no Indian media had a correspondent based in Brussels, hence the usefulness of INEP to provide Indian media with information on EU affairs. He said that INEP reports regularly on the activities of India’s diplomatic mission to the European Union, the key European Union institutions, including the European parliament, commission and council of ministers and lobbies of specific interest to Indian business and trade. INEP publishes a Newsletter and has a web site too.
Cecile Greboval from the European Women Lobby works to promote gender issues on a wider level. The European Women Lobby was established in 1990. Its membership is based on women organizations from 25 countries, that is, 4000 member organizations. It is the largest umbrella organization of women’s associations in the European Union. Its aim is to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men, and the integration of a gender perspective into all policies of the European Union.
Catherine Gigante, gender equality desk, Minister of French Community, Belgium focuses on gender equality in Belgium and explained the Belgian government initiative to fight against gender stereotypes.
The regional coordinator, Parul Sharma, stated that in India there is need for media organizations to allow women journalists to occupy decision making positions. Media houses should provide women with child care facilities, issues of discrimination and sexual harassment should be dealt with as major concerns. Women should be recruited to unions and portrayal of women in media should be raised as an issue in unions, she added. The other mission members also introduced themselves with their experiences from their respective fields related to journalism.
On the second day, mission members met with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The topic of discussion was on women in Europe and Asian Unions. Marieke Koning from Equality Department, Kamalam in charge of Asia Desk and others had a long discussion with Indian journalists. The outcome of the interactions showed that the situation of women was the same everywhere. Mention was made of the president of ICFTU who is an Australian woman. Mission members offered to write stories about her experience in their respective papers.
Later a visit of RTBF- national public TV gave mission members the opportunity to meet with chief editor Benoit Moulin and discuss current news, including the Danish case and its implications for RTBF.
To conclude the mission to Brussels, Magda Michielsen from the Anvers University gave a presentation on a software enabling the identification of gender stereotypes on Flemish language TV. She explained that the software was only available in Flemish but that she wanted to develop it in French and English.
In the evening, mission members met the Indian Ambassador, Mr. Deepak Chatterjee at a reception at the Indian embassy.
Berlin, 8-9 February
It was an exciting moment for the mission members to visit the Deutscher Bundestag (Parliament) in Berlin. After the unification of Germany it has been renovated and some parts of it are rebuilt according to modern architecture and technology. But some walls still remain, which reveal the whole story of transformation. The visitor comes to know about a modern parliament in a historic setting. It was built by the world famous architect Lord Norman Foster.
Federal Minister for family affairs senior citizens, women and youth, Renate Schmidt, feels that a democratic society may only be called ‘perfect’ if it is shaped by women and men on an equal footing. The Federal Government promotes advanced vocational training for women, supports equal pay for equal work, wants to improve girls’ career choices and seeks gender specific medical care. The ministry for women is concerned about career choice, management positions, wage and income gaps, balancing family and working life, women in politics, women’s health and violence against women.
The mission members visited the Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster. It fulfils its mission with a tri-media programme: DW- RADIO in 29 languages; German and English round the clock, DW-TV in German, English and Spanish as well as programme slots in other languages, presently Spanish and Arabic and, specially for Afghanistan, Dari and Pashto, DW-WORLD.DE- the multimedia and multilingual website with many additional information portals and services. It is comprised of a multinational team of roughly 1,500 employees from more than 60 countries. It addresses, in particular, opinion leaders, decision-makers and people who speak and are learning German in other countries. DW is also the “bridge home” for Germans living overseas, whether temporarily or permanently. It has been headquartered in Bonn since June 2003. DW-RADIO and the website DW-WORLD. DE are produced in the new Broadcasting Centre located in the former government quarter, while DW’s television activities are located in Berlin. Erik Bettremann is the Director-General, the chairs of the Broadcasting and the Management Boards are Valetin Schmidt and Dr. Franz Schoser. It has union members but participation and activism seems to be very low.
Deutscher Journalisten Verband (DJV) works for equality in German media and unions, Dr. Mechthild Maesker, Chairman of the DJV Gender Council presented her paper on Equality in German Media and Unions. The facts and figures of the survey report prepared specially for Indian journalists says that there are about 20,000 women journalist in Germany, which makes 35% of total number of journalists (estimated), most women journalists work in magazines/agencies, the number of free lancers is increasing (as it is for men journalists because of media crisis), now 20%, only 15% editor-in chiefs, 12% head of departments in broadcasting, 10-15 total number of women media owners or directors, the difference between average income of men and women in media is about 11 to 21%( estimated).
Generally the situation of women journalists can be described as unsatisfactory: well educated and experienced in their profession, but not equalized in their share on decision making positions or powerful jobs.
An alternative newspaper ‘Die Tageszeitung’ is published from Germany. Activists started this newspaper. It reports on stories not covered by the other German newspapers. According to the editor the staff is cooperative and women work in an open atmosphere. Women have decision making positions and face no harassment. But the paper does not have any special feature page on women issues.
London, 10-11 February
The NUJ organized a panel discussion on the experiences of British and Indian women journalists and activists. Some common causes of concern came out. It was felt that women are getting recognized but still have to achieve and attain their goals in profession. They have to run a career and take care of their family. The British government adopted laws addressing the concerns of working women and parental leave. These measures provide both men and women the facilities to look after their family and children.
The mission members attended the special one day conference on international development issues and the media organized by the NUJ.
The NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear said that developing issues are always of big importance for any media to cover. He welcomed the Indian delegates to the conference. He showed his concern on gender related issues.
The role and necessities of media reporting on NGOs was also focused. How journalists and NGOs assist each other to improve media coverage of the developing world were highlighted by the speakers.
Parul Sharma presented the sample survey report on the Gender Equality project. Some statistics on Delhi were presented: in Delhi there are about 4500 journalists working in big and small newspapers, new channels and magazines.
About 2000 of them are regular journalists working in big and medium newspapers. The Indian Express has more than 220, Hindustan Times about 410 and the Times of India about 450. Jagaran, Sahara and other Hindi newspapers which have launched their editions from Delhi and Noida together have about 650 journalists. 350 journalists all together work for Quomi Awaz in Urdu, National Herald in English, Daily Tej in Urdu, and Magazines like India Toady and Outlook. News Channels have approximately 500 journalists. There are about 1500 journalists who work as freelance journalists for more than one newspaper. Another category is of stringers but in Delhi they are a small number. There are 12% women journalist in India .
Parul Sharma listed the set of recommendations made in the survey:
· More women should be recruited as journalists and they should be encouraged to opt for this profession.
· News papers should have some job opportunities reserved for women.
· Training should be given to the women journalist in advance technology.
· Interaction with women journalist working in foreign media should be encouraged.
· Women should get equal decision making positions in editorial work
· Wage board should be strictly implemented while recurring women journalist.
· Arrangement for baby care or crèche in the office premises should be made.
· Leave should be equally given.
· More acceptability for women as head editor.
· Conveyance for late working hours should be arranged.
· Flexible working hours for pregnant women workers.
· Working atmosphere should be made safer.
· Unions should seriously take up problems like discrimination and sexual harassment.
· Women should be given decision-making positions in the governing bodies of the union. A quota should be reserved for women in the executive bodies of union.
· More women members should be recruited in the unions.
· Portrayal of the women in media should be discussed.
· Organize the growing no of the contract workers.
· Women should be give a fair opportunities to stand in the unions’ elections.
· Seminars and workshops should provide women with unionism trainings.
· The meetings organized at regional, national or international level should meet the ground level realities.
· Campaign books and documents, handouts should be circulated to enhance awareness.
· Specific women committees should be formed.
· Feedback on all conferences are necessary for the growth of the union membership and unionism.
· Proper recommendation on the wage Boards should be implemented by employers.
· An anti-sexual harassment committee and women club should be made compulsory in all media organizations.
· Proper promotion policy should be formed to avoid discrimination and humiliation.
· Self respect and honour of women journalist should be maintained while working with men.
Later in the conference, Thabitha Khumalo, a trade union activist and woman campaigner working in solidarity with Zimbabwe Congress of trade union, explained her lobbying actions. She appealed and launched a campaign to raise funds for millions of women in Zimbabwe who are suffering without the most basic sanitary products. She urged to donate generously to help the women of her country to take back their dignity.
After the six days of seminars, meetings and discussions on general issues at IFJ, ICFTU, DJV and NUJ the major outcomes is that the status of women in media in Europe and India is very similar. Working women journalists face discrimination at all levels. Violence against women, sexual harassment, equal pay for equal work, at decision making positions either in union or in any profession need to be addressed. Current legislations are insufficient and difficult to implement. Women committee should be formed. The major issues raised could be sorted out through sharing experiences and information. After that one can hope to build the paths to equality in journalism and to improve the professional and social status of women in Europe and India.
List of Indian delegates
1. Parul Sharma, India Co-ordinator and Chief Sub-editor, Jansatta, New Delhi
2. Indrani Raimedhi, Sub-editor, Assam Tribune, Guwahati
3. Ruta Bawdekar, Dy. Chief Sub-editor, Sakal, Pune
4. Ashwini Satav, Reporter, Daily Pudhari, Pune
5. Mangala K.R., Sub-editor, Prajavani, Bangalore
6. Mary Bilina, Chief Sub-editor, Mathrubhumi, Calicut
7. Aasha Khosa, Special Correspondent, Indian Express, New Delhi.
8. Nora Chopra, New Delhi
9. Veena Thakur, Dainik Jagaran, Kolkata
10. Krishna Rajimwale, New Delhi
<font size="1">This report has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the International Federation of Journalists and the Bangalore Newspaper Employees Union and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.