Women Journalists Speak Out: IFJ World Conference in Seoul, June 11th, Puts Women on the Media Agenda

Women make up more than a third of the world's journalists. They work in newspapers and magazines, in broadcasting and on-line media and they cover every issue from education to war. But this is only a start. Women are still a long way from the commanding heights of equality with men, who dominate the executive class of modern media. Female journalists meeting at the IFJ World Conference Equality and Quality: Setting Standards for Women in Journalism in Seoul on June 11th will discuss strategies to improve the status of women and make sure that women journalists' rights are put on the top of the agenda of media owners and journalists' unions. The IFJ conference will be the largest gathering ever of women journalists; some 100 women from over 65 countries will attend the meeting and will bring their experience to the discussions. The conference will hear from journalists such as, Angela Castellanos from Colombia who will tell the story of her courageous colleagues who in spite of threats, kidnappings and murder continue to investigate corruption and abuse of power. Gordana Susa from Belgrade, Lensi Musida from Indonesia or Kate Sam-Ngbor from Nigeria will talk about the role of women journalists in the struggle for media freedom in their countries. Linda Foley, president of the Newspaper Guild in the United States and vice-president of the IFJ will share her experience in the fight for women's union rights in a competitive media market. Solveig Schmidt, from Denmark and member of the IFJ women working party will plead the case for women's rights in the journalists' unions and will remind unions that they need constant vigilance against discrimination and dedication to positive actions for equality. The conference will also mark the launch of the IFJ publication Equality and Quality: A Celebration of Women in Journalism, which includes articles from female journalists from around the world and the findings of the 2001 IFJ survey on the status of women in journalism. The IFJ survey is the most comprehensive of its kind with answers received from unions of 40 countries, which represent together some 300,000 journalists. The survey found that while more and more women work in media, they only make up a fraction of management and editors. Only 0,6% of women get into decision-making posts in media. Journalists' unions have been more successful in getting women into top positions. 17% of the union leaders are women. Based on the findings of the survey the conference participants will discuss and propose an Equality Plan of Action to the IFJ Congress, which will be launched in Seoul in the evening of June 11th. All participants of the conference will be available for interviews. For further information on the conference or the IFJ survey, contact Bettina Peters at the conference in Seoul.