Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter - WACC (left), Dr. Glory Dharmaraj - United Methodist Women (centre), and Nanette Braun - UN Women (right). Photo: Solange DeSantis.
Sponsors and supporters of WACC’s 2015Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP), released on Nov. 23, noted that the study shows sexism remains a stubborn issue in news media coverage. They called for an end to gender disparity in the news media by 2020, speaking at a news conference at the U.N. in New York.
“UN Women is proud to support this important study for the second time,” said Nanette Braun, chief of communications and advocacy for UN Women, the United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“We now know that the ways in which women are depicted has a profound effect on attitudes and can either reinforce or break with traditional gender roles and stereotypes … the [GMMP] provides important data for conversations both about and with the media industry. We need to keep building the evidence base to create change in the newsrooms and in news coverage,” Braun said.
Braun and the Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter, WACC general secretary, noted that #5 of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals is to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls, and the GMMP findings are in line with these goals (photo: from the left Rev. Dr. Karin Achtelstetter - WACC, Dr. Glory Dharmaraj - United Methodist Women, Nanette Braun - UN Women).
“This is more than a bean counting exercise. The GMMP identifies gender imbalance by documenting patterns locally, regionally and globally. It is up to civil societies to keep the media accountable and restore women to their rightful place in the media,” said Dr. Glory Dharmaraj, consultant to United Methodist Women (UMW), the largest denominational faith organization for women with approximately 800,000 members. The U.S. portion of the GMMP was exclusively supported by UMW with funding and volunteers.
The GMMP is a survey of news media stories in 114 countries on a single day. The 2015 edition took place on March 25. The GMMP has taken place every five years, starting in 1995, and is a comprehensive view of gender representation in print, broadcast and Internet news.
Achtelstetter pointed out that overall, the 2015 report found that, while women represent 50% of the general population, they appear in 24% of news stories, a proportion unchanged since the 2010 study. WACC and its GMMP coordinators are now calling for more accurate gender equality in the news media. The report contains recommendations for media regulatory agencies, media organizations, civil society, professional journalism institutions, funding agencies and researchers.
“We have to end media sexism by 2020. At this rate, it will take three-quarters of a century to reach equality in numbers. We are calling for an action plan,” Achtelstetter said. She noted that one target is for newsrooms to support gender equality in 100% of national public media and 40% of private media in each country.
The most significant progress has taken place is Latin America, where the proportion of women in the news has risen to 29% in 2015 from 16% in 1995, Achtelstetter said. “This is the most significant development over the last 10 years. It is now the region with the highest proportion of female heads of government. It has a strong human rights activism, a vibrant feminist movement. When women are empowered, the stories change,” she said.