Today, the 8th of March 2011, marks 100
years since the first celebration of International Women's Day, but the
struggle for women's rights remains a battle to be won, particularly for women
in the media says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Despite
winning the right to vote and, in many countries, legal emancipation, women
continue to be the worst affected by recession, poverty and social dislocation.
Around the globe they are expected to maintain a double role as breadwinners
Female journalists struggle to overcome discrimination
at all levels and are targets of violence, threats and repression simply for
doing their job. The battle continues on issues of equal access to jobs and
promotion, equal pay and a greater representation of women in decision-making
positions. Media in many parts of the world continue to reinforce stereotypes
that encourage sexist behaviour and discrimination.
"Women are still discriminated against in the
workplace when it comes to salary or professional responsibility," said Mindy
Ran, Chair of the IFJ Gender Council, "Yet female journalists take major
physical risks in their work in many places across the world". Recent upheavals
in the Middle East and across the Arab world have further highlighted the
dangers many journalists face, and also the specific dangers facing women.
"The scourge of violence against journalists remains a
challenge for us all," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, "But the recent
serious sexual assault against CBS correspondent Lara Logan in the midst of
celebrations of a popular revolution in Cairo brings up another dimension - the
risk of sexual violence and harassment against women journalists."
The attack on Logan took place in Cairo's Tahrir
Square. She was saved by a group of women and soldiers. "The attack on Logan
must remind us that, while advising journalists about how to keep safe when
reporting these demonstrations, we must set out gender-specific training for
women journalists," said Boumelha.
The IFJ is also working to raise awareness on this
issue in regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where attacks
against women involving systematic rape are rife.
In Europe, women journalists have joined with their
trade union sisters, not only to celebrate a century of amazing and inspiring
women in the movement across countries and unions - the first International
Women's Day was held in Germany -- but also to highlight the disaster of
systemic discrimination hidden in public spending cuts across the continent,
including in the United Kingdom, where trade unions estimate that cuts will
impact severely and disproportionately on disadvantaged women, single-parent
families and the most vulnerable in society.
In Russia, the 7th of March was marked with
readings, open debates and exchanges with activists from around the region and
other countries. There were also calls for solidarity against impunity,
repression and violence. Women journalists, such as Anna Politkovskaya, have
been among the prominent victims of impunity, repression and danger facing many
journalists in the region, and in Belarus, award-winning investigative
journalist Irina Khalip, correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, remains under house
arrest. In Turkey, journalists face constant threat of imprisonment. Ten female journalists were put in jail, among
the 68 journalists, for nothing more than doing her
Elsewhere the situation is equally troubling.
According to the Association of Iranian Journalists, two women journalists,
Hengameh Shahidi and Nazanin Khosravani are among the 34 journalists in jail.
In Colombia, many women journalists like Claudia Julieta Duque and her
daughter, who were threatened by the Colombian secret police because of
Claudia's investigative reporting, have been forced into exile on account of
"Across the globe women journalists are victims of
specific threats and, like all women, they remain vulnerable to oppressive
systems," said Boumelha. "The IFJ and its Gender Council joins with others in
celebrating the historic victories of the women's movement of the last century,
but we reaffirm our demand that journalists, editors, publishers and trade
unions work together to improve the safety of all women journalists. This is
not only an act of simple solidarity but it is of paramount importance in the
fight for press freedom, democracy and equality for all."
For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries.