Seminars in New Delhi

<font size="2">Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Media Institutions</font>

28 – 29 March, 2006

<font size="2">Collective Bargaining and Women’s Rights</font>

30 March – 1 April, 2006

The two-day seminar Cracking the Glass Ceiling: Women in Media Institutions held in New Delhi on 29-30 March, aimed at assessing and improving the situation of women journalists in India in relation to their role in media organisations and the social institutions of media - in particular trade unions. Particular attention was given to the role women play in media management, trade union structures, employment policy, recruitment policy, training for their professional growth, portrayal of women and media content.

The seminar was followed by a workshop on Collective Bargaining and Women’s Rights. The 30 Indian participants included women journalists and trade union leaders. Four international delegates, including Aidan White, the General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), also participated.

The seminars contributed to the development of strategies for equality and non-discrimination at work. It examined ways of creating a culture of equality in media, both internally and in the production of editorial content.

Chief guest Kerstin Lindberg Project Manager, EU Economic Cross Cultural Programme (ECCP) said that she hoped the project would promote greater gender equality and collective bargaining on women’s issues.

In the panel, Women in the Newsroom: Status of Women Journalists in Indian Media, presentations were made by Parul Sharma, chief sub editor, Jansatta (AINEF), T.K.Rajlaxmi, senior correspondent, The Frontline, and Ira Jha, news editor, Hindi Hindustan.

The session on Women in Leadership saw presentations of case studies by Dr Annegret Witt-Barthel, DJV, Germany; senior journalist Usha Rai, formerly deputy director at the Press Institute of India and senior consultant to National Commission for Women, India. Payal Kumar, chief editor, Princeton Review, also shared her experiences.

In her presentation, Visible or Too Visible: The Paradoxical Portrayal of Women in Media, Laxmi Murthy, IFJ Programme Manager, discussed the impact of mass media, the problematic portrayal of women, the highlights of the GMMP and relevant laws and strategies to deal with the biased representation of women.

Pamela Moriniere, IFJ Gender Officer presented Portraying Politics: A Tool-kit on Gender and Television, and showed through interesting television clips, how politics is currently a man’s world.

The session on The Untold Story: Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace saw presentations by Madhu Kishwar, founder of Manushi, India’s first feminist magazine. Michelle Stanistreet talked about the European experience, and Aasha Khosa, Special Correspondent, The Indian Express, shared experiences from India.

Michelle Stanistreet and Barry Fitzpatrick of the National Union of Journalists, UK and Ireland ran a workshop on Recruitment Strategies and Training for Collective Bargaining. Com. M.C. Narasimhan of the AINEF participated in the discussions. Dr Annegret Witt-Barthel of the DJV made a presentation on the issue of Training for Collective Bargaining. She pointed out that new challenges require new union strategies for negotiating with employers.

Barry Fitzpatrick highlighted the experience that more workers come to unions if the unions address social issues. Discrimination, ethical standards, and bullying are some of the issues, which if taken up make the unions popular. These issues should therefore be made union issues.

Concurring with this view, Com. M C Narasimhan said that the AINEF has been struggling for its members’ demands and has been quite successful in achieving certain rights. On the gender issue, he said there was a very small number of women employees in the newspaper industry. With more and more women now joining, there is now scope for a powerful movement on this front.

Santosh Kumar, vice-president of the AINEF, intervening in the debate said that reservation for women members in the trade union bodies was not possible. Political parties of the countries were still debating the issue of 30 per cent reservation for women in Parliament but have reached nowhere up to now. "Let the women come and join the unions, actively participate in the affairs of the union and make it to the top," he suggested.

AINEF president Madan Phadnis said our aim is to mobilise the employees and improve their working conditions, and most of all to secure protection of jobs. The situation is grave in this country, where unemployment is increasing rapidly. On gender issues, Com. Phadnis said that in promotions for women there may be difficulties some times.

At the end of the seminar, delegates endorsed the Delhi Declaration, inviting the IFJ Indian affiliates to commit themselves to organise without further delay a Gender Council, composed equally of women and men, within their structure which will monitor gender equality policies and activities in the unions, including training for women journalists and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all aspects of union activity.

Among other things, the Declaration also called upon media employers to 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. By the Declaration, media employees' unions also committed themselves to eliminate all forms of violence, harassment and intimidation against women journalists. For full text of the Declaration click here.


Report by Parul Sharma, BNEU (AINEF)
Project coordinator