100 Years of International Women's Day: Cautious Celebration in Face of Bias, Violence and Media Stereotypes

Today, the 8th of March 2011, marks 100

years since the first celebration of International Women's Day, but the

struggle for women's rights remains a battle to be won, particularly for women

in the media says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Despite

winning the right to vote and, in many countries, legal emancipation, women

continue to be the worst affected by recession, poverty and social dislocation.

Around the globe they are expected to maintain a double role as breadwinners

and home-makers. 
Female journalists struggle to overcome discrimination

at all levels and are targets of violence, threats and repression simply for

doing their job. The battle continues on issues of equal access to jobs and

promotion, equal pay and a greater representation of women in decision-making

positions. Media in many parts of the world continue to reinforce stereotypes

that encourage sexist behaviour and discrimination.

"Women are still discriminated against in the

workplace when it comes to salary or professional responsibility," said Mindy

Ran, Chair of the IFJ Gender Council, "Yet female journalists take major

physical risks in their work in many places across the world". Recent upheavals

in the Middle East and across the Arab world have further highlighted the

dangers many journalists face, and also the specific dangers facing women.

"The scourge of violence against journalists remains a

challenge for us all," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President, "But the recent

serious sexual assault against CBS correspondent Lara Logan in the midst of

celebrations of a popular revolution in Cairo brings up another dimension - the

risk of sexual violence and harassment against women journalists."
The attack on Logan took place in Cairo's Tahrir

Square. She was saved by a group of women and soldiers. "The attack on Logan

must remind us that, while advising journalists about how to keep safe when

reporting these demonstrations, we must set out gender-specific training for

women journalists," said Boumelha.
The IFJ is also working to raise awareness on this

issue in regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where attacks

against women involving systematic rape are rife.
In Europe, women journalists have joined with their

trade union sisters, not only to celebrate a century of amazing and inspiring

women in the movement across countries and unions - the first International

Women's Day was held in Germany -- but also to highlight the disaster of

systemic discrimination hidden in public spending cuts across the continent,

including in the United Kingdom, where trade unions estimate that cuts will

impact severely and disproportionately on disadvantaged women, single-parent

families and the most vulnerable in society.

In Russia, the 7th of March was marked with

readings, open debates and exchanges with activists from around the region and

other countries. There were also calls for solidarity against impunity,

repression and violence. Women journalists, such as Anna Politkovskaya, have

been among the prominent victims of impunity, repression and danger facing many

journalists in the region, and in Belarus, award-winning investigative

journalist Irina Khalip, correspondent for Novaya Gazeta, remains under house

arrest. In Turkey, journalists face constant threat of imprisonment.  Ten female journalists  were put in jail, among

the 68 journalists, for nothing more than doing her


Elsewhere the situation is equally troubling.

According to the Association of Iranian Journalists, two women journalists,

Hengameh Shahidi and Nazanin Khosravani are among the 34 journalists in jail.

In Colombia, many women journalists like Claudia Julieta Duque and her

daughter, who were threatened by the Colombian secret police because of

Claudia's investigative reporting, have been forced into exile on account of

their work.

"Across the globe women journalists are victims of

specific threats and, like all women, they remain vulnerable to oppressive

systems," said Boumelha. "The IFJ and its Gender Council joins with others in

celebrating the historic victories of the women's movement of the last century,

but we reaffirm our demand that journalists, editors, publishers and trade

unions work together to improve the safety of all women journalists. This is

not only an act of simple solidarity but it is of paramount importance in the

fight for press freedom, democracy and equality for all."



For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than 600.000 members in 125 countries.