Women Journalists in the EU-Integration Process:
Gender, Quality and Union Rights in European Media
Cyprus 27-29th May 2005
The conference brought together 30 participants representing 22 unions.
The seminar was introduced by Annegret Witt Barthel, European coordinator for the IFJ gender council. She outlined the aims of the seminar:
- analysing and communicating changes for women in journalism,
- stressing the advantages of gender equality,
- empowering journalists with these rights and
- circulating and informing European journalists about these developments.
Doros Theodorou, Cyprus Minister for Justice and Public Order, stressed the impact that media have on society and the social perceptions that it conveys. He emphasized the need to undertake a campaign for gender equality. He spoke about the 2004 European Parliament’s elections and the decision made in Cyprus at the time to ask media and radio for equal representation of women in the media.
Andreas Kannaouros, President of the Union of Cyprus Journalists, welcomed participants and stressed the importance of gender equality in the media.
Pamela Moriniere, officer for gender programme at the IFJ, gave a short summary of the national reports sent by participants and introduced the Portraying Politics project, an EU funded initiative in which the EFJ is involved, together with European broadcasters and journalism training centres.
The current situation: briefing and country reports
(country reports produced by participants are available on the IFJ web site, gender section)
Cecile Greboval from the European Women’s Lobby introduced the discussion on gender policies in Europe from a media perspective. She stressed in particular the existing pay gap, share of family and domestic work and violence against women (1/5 women are victims of violence). The EU has adopted a series of directives against sexual discrimination. The most progress was made through the adoption of the Amsterdam treaty when gender equality became one of the objectives of the EU. Despite provisions in article 1.4.1 of the treaty introducing possibilities for Member States to implement positive actions regarding women, nothing is binding. The Women Rights Committee in the European parliament has called for legislation but nothing has been done so far.
The Beijing platform for action, adopted in 1995, is the first text introducing gender equality in the media. At EU level, a gap remains regarding women in the media and no gender mainstreaming exists. The Television Without Frontier directive provides in article 22 for a useful provision and recommends the protection of minors in audiovisual services.
She stressed the lack of data on gender in journalism and the need to include more women in media decision making bodies to gain more influence over the media content. Her conclusions were that issues to be tackled in relation to gender equality and the media relate to questions of access, power and portrayal. Although some European measures exist in relation to gender equality in employment and protection of human dignity in media content, the implementation of these measures is insufficient in practice.
Anna Pilavaki from the Democratic Labour Federation of Cyprus introduced the topic of the rights of women at work and stressed that despite positive actions in legislation, the problem was not solved. She hopes that the acquis communautaire would make a difference on gender equality.
She outlined the situation in Cyprus:
Employment rate for women: 59.7 %
Women in Managerial position:17.6 %
Women Senior officials in public services:16 %
Women are paid 25 percent less than men.
Marina Cosi from the FNSI presented the obstacles to equality and the challenges faced by media women from an Italian perspective. She stressed in particular the difficulty in reconciling work and family life. In Italy, women benefit from 5 months paid maternity leave. However, there is a fear in Italy that European legislation could make the situation worse. There is a complex situation regarding women’s influence on media and media’s influence on women. Therefore, one needs to change the way media address women. Media concentration and globalisation lower the quality of information. Moreover, hierarchy of information remains the same. Unions must fight against work precariousness and marginalised persons such as the youth and women must be taken into account. Unions should fight against the objectification of women in images and in language.
Krini Kafiris, visiting lecturer from the University of Cyprus, introduced “The Gender and Media Handbook: Promoting Equality, Diversity and Empowerment” addressing the Mediterranean media, which includes a set of recommendations. A copy of the handbook was distributed to participants.
Discussions started on the basis of national reports. Participants raised the precariousness of journalism- which places job security even before journalists’ rights- and the lack of salary scales in some countries. The stiff competition that has emerged within the EU and the fact that the EU did not recognise freedom of expression as a social right were denounced. Participants discussed the need for more support from the EFJ, the need to strengthen unions, the need to use collective agreements to combine work and family life and the need to introduce gender mainstreaming to make sure that this issue is addressed by the unions as a whole. Bullying and harassment of both women and men were heavily criticized as was domestic violence, which should be seen as a breach of human rights, the participants said. Participants also discussed the growth of unpaid trainees in the media and the existing gap between developed and newly developed countries in Internet technology access.
Leadership in the media
Brigitte Handlos, Medien Frauen, Austria
Brigitte Handlos stressed the need to avoid focusing on men in leadership but rather to focus on women’s final goals and the strategy to achieve these goals. Women must lead themselves before leading others. There should be specific leadership training for women that also involves men. The EFJ should become an efficient network for discussion and lobbying and be used to put pressure on society. Many intelligent women lack confidence. It is therefore important that a space for women exists to develop confidence and speak out.
The debate also stressed the responsibility of the state for providing facilities for this space. This should not remain a private issue. Role play could be used (with women acting out various gender roles) to empower women to become more active in politics. Emphasis was also put on the need to learn how to communicate better. In the case of training, themes should be clarified: “family life” should include men for example.
Portrayal of women in the media
Margaret Gallagher, media consultant
Margaret Gallagher talked about common stereotypes carried by the media: powerful man and the sexualised woman. There is a need to develop more critical viewing skills, she said. There should be more data and research to update figures on women in the media (for example in Denmark 28 percent of the people speaking on prime time are women) and more practical examples. Journalists can become lazy in the way they portray gender and gender should be considered a professional issue in the media. Women often lack the confidence to speak and men in control of editorial content should be involved in changing this.
Reference was made to the EU project coordinated by the EFJ on Portraying Politics and which could be used by participants when finalised. Journalists should also get involved in the 2010 Global media monitoring project. A European report could be issued on the basis of the global report.
Discussions encouraged journalists to choose women as experts when they have the choice.
Leadership in the union
Ann Magrit Austena, Norwegian Union of Journalists
Statistics is the mother of politics. National unions and the EFJ should formulate claims for representation and the EFJ should initiate training courses for leaders. The percentage of women represented on boards should be similar to the percentage of women in the union’s membership. Women must participate in the negotiations. Facts and figures are essential. Decisions on meetings should also be based on making time for family life.
Union challenges: Mainstreaming gender issues
Annegret Witt Barthel talked about the strong media concentration in Western and Eastern European countries, the effects of globalisation on journalism: fewer workers, more work, decrease of social protection, decrease of job security), tougher working atmosphere, authors’ rights violations and salary cuts. She also discussed the change of the media landscape, in particular in Eastern Europe, where, for example, Western media companies buying local media.
Role and power of women journalists in the Union
Mindy Ran discussed the work done in the NUJ, (UK) regarding gender equality. There is no proportional representation of women in the union. There is a need for women journalists to learn the rules in the union, to use them and to support women at branch level. NUJ agreed on the IFJ gender policies. She also said attention should also be given to gay and lesbians. Changes must come from the inside.
Liene Kibloka, from the Latvian journalists union described the gender situation in Latvia, a country which is ranked 11th out of 58 on gender equality.
Discussions focused on the role and influence that the IFJ has and should have on gender equality; the importance of more cross border cooperation between unions; the need for unions to get together within the IFJ and learn from each other on gender equality issues; the need for more training on gender equality and leadership; and the need to make figures public and put together a black list of media organisations not respecting gender equality. Separation between Eastern and Western journalists should be avoided because they all face the same problems.
Guidelines for action
A set of guidelines for action were circulated to participants and amended.
A survey on the situation of women journalists in Europe was discussed. Reference was made to the 2001 IFJ survey, which focused on all IFJ members. Discussions addressed the target group of this survey (All IFJ unions in Europe? EFJ unions only?), the coordination of the survey and translations ( Tamara Skrozza for Serbian, Montenegrian, Croatian and Bosnian translation, Anabela Fino for Portuguese, Nadia Azhgikhina for Russian).
Results of the survey should be launched at the next EFJ general Assembly, in 2006.
- the survey should be discussed within the EFJ steering committee for final approval
- the network created in Cyprus should be used to get information and inform on progress made
- the IFJ action plan adopted at the Seoul Congress in 2001 should be implemented
- adopt a Declaration (released on 7th July 2005)
- issue a press release on the Cyprus seminar and the essential needs for women journalists