Reporters urged to be gender sensitive at Fiji rights forum

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FWRM's Tara Chetty ... "gender aware journalism matters because it promotes freedom of speech." Image: David Robie/PMC

By Felix Chaudhary in Nadi

Women and girls’ news and issues make up only 24 percent of all reports in print, radio and television media.

This was the statistics shared by Fiji Women’s Rights Movement executive director Tara Chetty during a human rights reporting workshop for senior journalists and government media officers in Nadi last week.

She added reporters needed to be gender sensitive and aware when reporting on issues relating to women and girls or on issues of national interest.

“Gender aware journalism matters because it promotes freedom of speech, good governance, reveals hidden stories, redefines news value and, most importantly, upholds human rights,” she said.

Chetty quoted an analysis conducted by FWRM communications officer Shazia Usman of media articles in the last ten days leading up to the 1999 and 2006 elections as an example of how disproportionate media reports are.

“Out of the total 471 items analysed, female election candidates were quoted only 10 per cent of the time. While female election candidates were only quoted a small per cent of the times, the data collected shows that the percentage was even worse when taking into account all females.”

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Chetty added women were rendered “invisible” by the media’s omission of women and girls’ voices and images on matters of interest.

Men in media majority
“If we read, listen to, and watch those who are speaking in the media — those who are quoted in stories on events of the day — the majority are men, although women and men live in the societies reported on, and both have views on the events and issues.

“Certain categories of women receive even less attention in the media, such as elderly women, women with disability and women with different sexual orientations or gender identities.”

The Enhancing a Human Rights-based Approach to News Reporting Forum was organised by the Secretariat for the Pacific Community’s Regional Rights Resource Team in partnership with the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme, the Pacific Islands News Association and the University of the South Pacific’s Journalism Program.

The workshop, held at the Tanoa Skylodge Hotel, was supported by the Australian Government and the European Union.

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