Women in Indian media – Time to Ban Discrimination and Promote Equality Say Unions

Journalists’ leaders in India are being urged to lead a new campaign to reinforce rights of women journalists in one of Asia’s dramatically expanding media markets.

A five-day union debate on gender equality and women’s rights has concluded with a call to make women’s rights and improved portrayal of women priorities over the coming year. Unions are being invited to set up special gender councils to press for improved conditions for women working in media and there are new calls for more action by media organisations over what the IFJ says is a “scandal of neglect” regarding rights of women.

“The time has come for India’s established commitment to equality to be properly recognised in the way media work and behave,” said Pamela Moriniere, IFJ Gender Officer. “The failure over the years by media organisations and journalists’ groups to properly focus on rights of women amounts to a scandal of neglect that cannot go on.”

Representatives of Indian journalists’ unions agreed an extensive declaration after meetings on gender equality held in New Delhi, India, from 28th March to 1st April. Major concerns include the lack of adequate representation of women in the leadership of unions and in the executive belt of media management and the need for women’s rights to figure more strongly in collective bargaining and union work.

As well as setting up gender councils “without further delay,” unions are being asked to press for proportional representation of women on all decision making bodies and access to leadership positions, to encourage transparency and fairness in media houses when promoting staff, to combat sexual harassment and bullying at work, to promote fair gender portrayal in media and to campaign for facilities to enable both men and women to reconcile family and work. Media employers are urged to introduce equal opportunity policies and to eliminate the contract system of hiring people, ensuring women and men journalists enjoy the provisions of India’s Industrial employment (Standing Orders) Act which applies to journalists.

The workshops form part of a project funded by the European Union and managed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), together with the All India Newspapers Employees Federation (AINEF), the Deutcher Journalisten Verband (DJV) and the National Union of Journalists of Great Britain and Ireland (NUJ). The project promotes co-operation between journalists in India and Europe over women in media and it aims to strengthen relations between journalists unions on gender equality.

Further activities planned in the on-going project, which is part of the EU-India Economic Cross Cultural Programme, include the production of a gender equality handbook to give concrete best practices examples, ideas and targets for the improvement of conditions of women in journalism and portrayal of women in media.

Read the Declaration here