Gender Equity Seminar, Delhi, 20-21 May 2006

<font size="2">EU-India Project: Building Paths to Equality in Journalism

Gender Equity Seminar, Delhi, 20-21 May 2006


<font size="1">IFJ coordinator report

Pamela Morinière


This two-day seminar was based on the IFJ gender equality training modules. It included interactive sessions which helped participants contribute and put together an action plan for campaigning on gender equality. Participants included 16 women journalists and 3 AINEF-BNEU union leaders , as well as two representatives from the IFJ, an expert from DJV and 3 BNEU project staff.

Working documents distributed to participants included handouts for each session, power point presentation, IFJ 2001 survey on women in media, IFJ 2002 pack “Empowering women for change”, the IFJ 2001 action plan and 1993 Equal opportunity polity.

20 May, 2006

Introduction, expectations and ice breaker

Pamela Morinière, 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 and in journalists’ unions. She explained that the course will also provide participants with training on communication and campaigning and tips on how to build activists. She said that a similar training will be replicated this summer in Bangalore (4-5th August) and she encouraged participants that would be interested in contributing to the running of the second seminar to be in touch in due time with the project team.

Parul Sharma, BNEU Indian coordinator for the project, started the training with an ice breaker, asking all participants to introduce their neighbours and ask them to write down their expectations for the training.

Expectations included: status of women journalists, reach all parts of the country, share experience, develop a national women council, fight against harassment (including sexual harassment), address concerns faced by journalists in language newspapers, encourage the strength of women journalists, equal pay for equal work, make concrete suggestions, develop of 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 in the workplace, further implementation and follow up of the project, gender mainstreaming, contract employment.

Introducing the issue

Laxmi Murthy, IFJ Asia Pacific Program Manager and website and newsletter editor for the project, asked participants to write down three points they felt were gender equality issues.

Issues listed included: equal space, equal status, access to all beats (soft/hard issues discrimination), participation in decision making, no discrimination in recruitment, facilities at the work place (crèches, ladies toilets, night drops), equal opportunities for night shifts, acceptance of women leadership, combating stereotypes, maternity leaves, training, harassment (mental and physical pressure), how to handle male ego.

The IFJ’s global campaign for Women in the Media

Pamela Morinière explained the functioning of the IFJ, its membership , its aims and goals to defend press freedom and trade unionism, 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, and meets twice a year. She referred participants to the IFJ equal opportunity policy adopted 1993 (which includes the setting of women committees, removal of barriers and job segregation, fully paid parental leave of at least three months, monitoring actions to be undertaken by unions…).In 2001 the IFJ congress adopted an action plan on gender equality listing a number of objectives to be undertaken by the IFJ and its unions.

Women in Media: sharing our experience

Annegret Witt Barthel, DJV Germany, went though 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 unions 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 examples adopted by Asian unions, including provisions for reconciling work and family life, sexual harassment... She referred, among others, to the Australian management training for equal opportunity, the Japanese experience on child care, the Malaysian union’s clause to discourage sexual harassment.

Participants referred to the Indian Express union’s policy on promotion every three years, gender equality provisions in the Indian law and Constitution. The Pune working journalists Foundation has a specific budget dedicated to women forum. Discussions also addressed the US model on “women budgeting” and the Madhya Pradesh working journalists’ union’s policies regarding quotas for women in hospitals, gifts for wedding or emergency fund.

Skills for women in media unions

Laxmi Murthy asked the audience how many women enjoyed public speaking. Seven said they did. She went through various methods to be used depending on the objectives of the 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 the targeted audience. She explained that 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, street play, role play, photographs…

Prioritising the issue

Parul Sharma split participants into four groups. The purpose of that session was for each group to identify key gender equality concerns and prepare a presentation for the whole audience using visual aids. Each groups made very interesting presentation focusing on several main gender concerns, using skills addressed in the seminar and others, such as acting.

Main issues raised included equal pay, decision making, workplace facilities, flexi hours, stereotypes, beats selection, promotion, harassment (and the lack of supporting bodies to deal with it), male ego, maternity leave.

Further discussions addressed the trend for south India English newspapers to hire more women, Madhya Pradesh TVs hiring in majority pretty, young and indecently dressed women journalists, the need to do a study in that field. Consequences of this type of practice for mature women journalists were denounced. Madhya Pradesh colleagues informed participants of their union’s recent decision to create a women committee.

21 May, 2006

Pamela Morinière summarised the first day’s discussions and introduced the programme for the day aiming at developing a campaign and adopt an action plan. To start the second day seminar, Parul Sharma organised an ice breaker around the evening dinner out in New Delhi.

Guest Speaker: Indrani Mazumdar, Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Ms Mazumdar shared her experience in fighting for gender rights, the importance of building a collective movement and explained the latest actions she was involved in India, including a campaign against the elimination of female foetuses, workers’ rights and women’s employment.

Skills for women in media unions: Campaigning

Using overheads, Annegret Witt Barthel went through the basic concepts for campaigning. Campaigning involves motivating people, expose injustice to the public. 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.

Building Activists

Parul Sharma asked three participants to volunteer and come to the stage. She then asked these participants why and why not volunteering. Reasons such as new challenges, obligation as well as shyness or size of the group were invoked.

Building activists involve 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 though the best ways to get people involved and take responsibility.

Devising a campaign

Annegret Witt Barthel introduced the draft action plan based on gender issues prioritised on day 1: 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: issue, goals, strategies, target group, slogan, activities, timeframe, allocation of responsibility, follow up.

After one hour preparation, 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 (“she is like you only”, “let us bloom, don’t start our growth give us promotion”, “freedom from being branded”, “decisions, our rights 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.

Conclusions and follow up

IFJ, BNEU, AINEF and DJV representatives thanked the audience for their enthusiasm and creativity.

Pamela Morinière said that the action plan would be circulated to the groups and that each groups 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 New Delhi in December. She said that some of the ideas raised would be used to prepare posters and leaflets for the project and send to unions for campaigning. Madan Phadnis, AINEF president, said he was very impressed by the work of the participants who had “everything to run an edition” and demonstrated all necessary skills. All participants were asked to leave their contact details to project’s staff to build on the network in India.