Manifesto for Gender Equality in Indian Media

<font size="3"> Manifesto for Gender Equality in Indian Media

</font>Adopted at the EU-India Final Conference on Gender Equity in Media,
New Delhi 9-10 December, 2006

Indian women have greater visibility and voice than ever before – and they exercise influence in every sphere of public life. Strong and engaged movements of women work on issues of vital importance not only in their own lives, but to the country as a whole. The issue of women’s rights is today, 60 years after independence, a central pillar of political, social and cultural life and a key to continued development.

Nevertheless, there is no denying the evidence of the huge gaps between constitutional and legal guarantees and the daily realities of women’s lives, particularly in the media sector, which plays a vital role in defining the right to information and which underpins the pluralism and free discourse which is at the heart of Indian democracy.

Equality of freedoms and opportunities, underscored by the presence and influence of women in the life of Indian media, is an essential condition for building democracy and press freedom in India.

Across the information and communications sector, at all levels, more must be done to expand opportunities for women and to decrease inequalities where they persist.

In particular,

• Women in media must be given the chance to speak for themselves and to be involved at all levels of decision-making;

• Women leaders must be encouraged at all levels to recognise and advance the interests of women and men in creating a culture of equality within media;

• Media must assume responsibility for the role they play in forming public opinion and ensure that portrayal of women reflects the values of gender equality and ensures space for consideration of issues that affect women in their daily lives;

• The issue of gender equality must move from being an exclusive concern of women to being an issue for all. Women and men must join hands to confront social barriers and to ensure justice and equality.

To achieve these objectives, the institutions of media, including media companies and groups representing the workforce, must change the ways in which they often think and behave to confront inequality and exploitation in favour of equality and mutual respect. With this in mind,

Media Managements must

1. adopt and enforce the provisions of the industrial employment (Standing Orders) Act which is applicable to journalists in India, eliminate illegal and insecure labour conditions, and ensure that journalists and other media employees are able to freely exercise their right to join and be active in a trade union and to be represented by a union or association of their choice;

2. examine recruitment and personnel policies to eliminate any obstacles to women employees in reaching leadership positions and to put in place policies and strategies to encourage women to take such positions;

3. ensure that promotional practices are fully transparent, that they are based upon seniority and fair assessment and that they recognise the special circumstances in which women work;

4. provide facilities for women and men journalists to reconcile work and family life, including provision of support for child care, flexible working hours, and support for women who work night shifts (such as, free and secure transport arrangements and special retiring rooms).

5. adopt and develop equal opportunity policies and promote and publish vacancies to ensure fair access of all to employment and agree with unions and employee representatives on positive actions in favour of gender equality;

6. Commit themselves to working with unions and associations of journalists and media staff to eliminate all forms of violence, harassment and intimidation against women in the media workplace.

Media Unions and Associations must

1. adopt and develop equal opportunity policies and actions to promote and encourage the participation of women at all levels in the union;

2. ensure that equal opportunities policy and gender rights figure in all collective bargaining arrangements with media employers

3. pledge to have proportional representation of women on all decision making bodies by the next IFJ Congress in 2007;

4. ensure that participation by union members at any of their meetings, seminars and delegations is gender-balanced;

5. The media employees’ unions commit themselves to working together with media employers to promote fair gender portrayal in the media, including the development of guidelines;

Finally, Indian affiliates of the IFJ commit themselves to organise within their structure, without further delay, a Gender Council made up of journalists working in journalism, of which at least half the members shall be women. This council will promote equal rights for women in journalism, will monitor gender equality policies and activities in the unions, including training for women journalists, and will ensure gender mainstreaming in all aspects of union activity. Similar gender councils should be established at state and local level.