“Women journalists face enormous problems of discrimination and danger that undermines their role in media, in spite of increasing numbers of women in the newsroom”, says the IFJ today in a statement to mark International Women’s Day.
They struggle for equal pay, they are passed over for top management jobs, and they have fewer opportunities than men in a profession that remains male-dominated.
“The future of media is increasingly dependent upon the equal participation of women yet the reality of their working lives is a profound lack of recognition both of their skills and their ambitions,” says the IFJ.
“This must change. First, women must have better access to leadership positions, both at their workplace and within their unions. Second, there must be a systematic change in the culture of employment and rewards in media to eliminate all forms of discrimination. It is time for equality in pay, jobs and opportunities”
The IFJ is particular concerned that the specific problems facing women working in conflict zones are not properly recognised.
According to a recent International News Safety Institute (INSI) survey, more than half of women war journalists reported sexual harassment. A significant number said they had experienced sexual abuse. “The levels of fear and intimidation that women journalists face is absolutely unacceptable and must change radically”.
“The number of women reporters working in war zones is increasing and they are targeted just like men” says the IFJ which says that over 7 women journalists were killed in the course of their profession in 2004”. “Women journalists covering conflict must receive appropriate training and equipment to fulfil their job”.
The IFJ participated at a special discussion held yesterday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris to discuss security of women reporters. More than 100 women journalists and media staff have been killed over the past 15 years.
Like men, women face risks, but often they suffer added threats such as the ever-present potential for sexual harassment, intimidation and, even worse, physical assault.
“All journalists need to be prepared for conflict reporting,” said Pamela Morinière, IFJ Gender Officer, “and the special needs of women in this area should not be forgotten. “While women do not want to be treated differently from men, the increasing role they play must be properly recognised”.
In Iraq, six local women colleagues have died since the beginning of the conflict and
the IFJ continues to push for the release of French reporter Florence Aubenas who disappeared over 60 days ago and is still missing along with her interpreter Hussein Hanoun Al-Saadi.
“On international Women’s Day we have the continuing ordeal of a leading woman journalist who for 60 days has been a victim of the worst kind of terror and intimidation. We urge that her captors release her immediately and without condition. She more than anyone symbolises the reality of women in journalism today - they participate equally in all aspects of media and suffer, just like all other colleagues, when democracy and human rights are under attack”.
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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries