Report by Parul Sharma, India Coordinator,AINEF_BNEU
Under the EU India Project: Building Paths to equality in Journalism a two-day seminar was held in Bangalore. It was based on the IFJ gender equality training modules. This seminar followed a first gender equality event held in May 2006 in Delhi. The second event involved some of the former participants from Delhi as trainers. The Bangalore trainees also added their very valuable inputs to move forward on an action plan for campaigning on gender equality.
Participants included women journalist from several parts of India including Delhi, Jaipur, Nagpur ,Chennai, Bhopal, , AINEF-BNEU Union leaders, representatives from IFJ, DJV and NUJ (UK) and guest speakers.
4th August 2006
Introduction, Expectations and ice breaker
Pamela Moriniere, Gender officer for the IFJ and IFJ coordinator for the project, explained that the aim of the seminar was to invite participants to consider the broad range of issues encompassed by gender equality and define how to prioritise these issues at work places and in journalists’ unions. She explained that the course would also provide participants with training on communication and campaigning and tips on how to build activists.
She focused on all the activities carried since September 2005 under the project and explained that the purpose of the project was to prioritise gender equality within unions and in the workplace, implement the Delhi Declaration on gender equality and action plans adopted in Delhi and Bangalore seminars, help affiliates set up a Gender Council to be launched during the final conference to be held in December in India where a charter on gender equality will be agreed.
Parul Sharma, BNEU India coordinator for the project, started the training with an ice breaker, asking all participants to introduce their neighbours and asked them to write down their expectations for the training.
Expectations included: Discuss the status of women journalists, reach out to all parts of the country, share experiences, develop a national women’s council, fight against harassment (including sexual harassment), address concerns faced by journalists in language newspapers, encourage the strengths of women journalists, equal pay for equal work, make concrete suggestions to strengthen gender equality, develop a forum to discuss issues in the future, develop strategies to tackle problems, freelancers, facilities for women journalists, build up a network, develop codes of ethics at the workplace, further implementation and follow up of the project, gender mainstreaming, contract employment and how to form a Gender Council.
Introducing the issue
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ, UK, asked participants to write down three points they felt were gender equality issues.
Issue listed included: equal space, equal status, access to all beats (soft/hard issues), discrimination, participation in decision making in unions and at workplaces, no discrimination in recruitment, facilities at the workplace (crèches, ladies toilets, night drops), equal opportunities for night shifts, acceptance of women leadership, combating stereotypes, maternity leaves, training, job security, harassment (mental and sexual) and how to handle male ego.
The IFJ’s global campaign for women in the media
Pamela Moriniere explained the functioning of the IFJ, its membership, its aims and goals as well as its priority regarding gender equality, including women in journalism and in the Union, equal pay for work of equal value, fair portrayal of women in the media and the importance to fight against stereotypes, the development of the IFJ women’s network and the IFJ actions for more gender mainstreaming in all its activities. She explained the functioning of the IFJ gender council, which is composed of women journalists representing IFJ unions, that meets twice a year.
Women in Media: sharing our experience
Annegret Witt Barthel, DJV Germany, went through the IFJ 2001 survey on gender equality and highlighted the main results of the survey showing the increasing feminisation of the profession and the lack of representation of women in leadership positions, both within union and media houses. She stressed the need to develop gender councils, women networks and special services for women within unions such as lawyers. She addressed the issue of equal pay for equal work and the difficulties for women to reconcile work and family life.
She went through the IFJ empowerment pack, which consists of numerous best practices example adopted by Asian unions, including provisions for reconciliation of work and family life, sexual harassment. She then asked participants to share their best practices experiences.
Skills for women in Media Unions
Abha Sharma asked the audience how many women enjoyed public speaking. Some said they did. But Abha Sharma herself said she was scared of it.
She went through various methods to be used depending on the objectives of speech and the audience (close to people, more distance for negotiation...) and stressed the importance to choose one’s pattern of communication depending on the objectives pursued and target audience.
She explained how we receive information Visual aids were an effective tool for communication. Participants listed visual aids that could be used, such as posters, leaflets/brochures, power point presentation, boards, films, puppets, streets play, role play, photographs. On “how to prepare a talk”, “how to speak in public” and “how adults learn”, Abha gave a power point presentation with cartoons, which was very effective.
Parul Sharma split participants into four groups. The purpose of this session was for each group to identify key gender equality concerns and prepare a presentation for the whole audience using visual aids. Each group made very interesting presentations focusing on several main gender concerns, using skills addressed in the seminar and others, such as acting.
Main issues raised including equal pay, decision making, workplace facilities, flexi hours, stereotypes, beats selection, promotion, harassment (and lack of supporting bodies to deal with it), male ego, maternity leave, beat discrimination, need for change.
5 August, 2006
Pamela Moriniere summarised the first day’s discussion and introduced the programme for the day aiming at developing a campaign and adopting an action plan. To start the second day seminar, Parul Sharma organised an icebreaker around the evening dinner out in Bangalore.
Guest speaker: Ammu Joseph founder of the Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) shared her experiences on how she formed NWMI. She feels that discrimination is deep rooted in Indian society. She shared some thoughts on being a woman journalist in India. According to her, for women to become journalists in India is not something very common or traditional. Women journalists have to face public contacts and break all the traditional backgrounds. Ammu explained that the language used in newspapers was not a language of women and women journalists cannot write everything as they feel or undergo.
Women journalists interviewed for Making News (a book written by Ammu Joseph on
Indian women journalists) stressed women’s marginal participation in union affairs, the fear of being associated with unions, women–unfriendly nature of unions and union activities (timing etc), and the lack of attention to gender-related issues within unions, and the insecurity –mainly due to contract system.
NWMI’s position is to not try to substitute but to work along with unions and perhaps act as a pressure group to make unions recognise and act upon gender-related issues. Misunderstanding continues to keep quite a few women away from the network, at the same time, many others within the network feel frustrated about the inability to be activist enough.
Discussions within the NWMI address the need for unions to promote gender equality, the contract system, differences in salaries /perks/ working conditions between English and Indian language media, sexual harassment experiences with Sabita, Namrata, etc); survey regarding compliance with Vishakha judgment requirements –e.g. properly constituted sexual harassment committees – by media houses (such as that beign conducted by the Indian Women’s Press Corps, Delhi) attrition/ career drop-outs, freelancers (no norms/transparency, contracts, legal redress), training (especially for women in financial and other necessary negotiations, leadership), transparency in hiring /firing, develop gender sensitive ethic codes and guidelines, strengthen media legislation (e.g. Broadcast Bill), address media globalisation and the impact thereof, collaborate with unions rather than compete on core issues (for instance on the survey on women journalists being held as part of the Gender project).
Skills for Women in Media Unions: Campaigning
Using overheads, Annegret Witt Barthel went through the basic concepts for campaigning. Campaigning involves motivating people and exposing injustice to public attention. She said that one should not underestimate the power that women journalists have.
She explained that a good campaign should involve a planning process: identify the issue, the objectives, strategies, the target group, demands and slogans, commission tasks and activities, organisation, resources, timing.
A campaign includes its preparation, its promotion and its follow up.
Parul Sharma asked three participants to volunteer and come to the stage. She then asked these participants why they did and did not volunteer. Reasons such as new challenges, obligations as well as shyness were involved.
Building activists involves the need to work practically, with trust, support from organisations, manage time, prioritise issues and use planning, she said. Referring to the handout, she went through the best ways to get people involved and take responsibility
Devising a campaign
Michelle Stanistreet introduced the action plan based on gender issues prioritised in the May Seminar on the first day: sexual harassment, stereotyping, promotion, decision making, women facilities, maternity leave.
Participants were asked to split into four groups, select one theme and draft a campaigning process including: issues, goals, strategies, target groups, slogan, activities, timeframe, allocation of responsibility, follow up.
After an hour, each group presented its campaign to the audience. Each group came up with concrete and detailed campaigns, strategies and activities to be carried out in India, using visual aids and slogans such as “Don’t exploit, “Please encourage”, “Stop harassing, Stop harassment”, “She is like you only”, “Let us bloom, don’t stunt our growth, give us promotion”, “Freedom from being branded”, “Decision, our right too”, “Listen to a lady for a change”, “Don’t hesitate, follow my decision”. All groups were eager to set a time frame as early as possible.
Mr. K.N Shantha Kumar Director of the Printer (Mysore) Private Ltd. and the editor of Deccan Chronicle also joined as a special guest. He was very impressed that the BNEU Union had organised this Gender Equality Seminar which showed BNEU willingness to put gender issues on their agenda. He said gender issues and discrimination are very close to him, but feels that women are not confident to accept challenges and stressed the need to change mindsets. Participants asked Mr. Kumar about the Chronicle’s policies on gender equality, how it dealt with harassment in the workplace and promotion.
Madam Phadnis President, AINEF wished that by the end of the project many of sisters and daughters who have attended the several activities/seminars will turn to be leaders of mass media of this country.
Conclusion and follow up
IFJ, BNEU, AINEF, DJV and NUJ representatives thanked the audience for their enthusiasm and creativity.
Pamela Moriniere and Michelle Stanistreet edited and improved the action plan adopted in Delhi according to the Bangalore participant’s inputs. The action plan will be circulated to groups and each group should nominate a coordinator to follow up the implementation. Each group will have to report on the implementation of the action plan at the EU-India conference to be held in December.
1.Action Plan, Bangalore
Group I (Harassment)
Group II (Leadership)
Group II (Soft and Hard Beats)
Sumati Jai Raman
Group IV (Leave Benefits)