Volunteers in Nepal carrying out the Global Media Monitoring Project 2015. Photo: ASMITA.
Results of the 2015 edition are expected to be published in the fall. In 2010, the survey discovered that just 24% of news stories featured, quoted or were written by women, compared to 17% in 1995.
Each GMMP depends upon hundreds of dedicated volunteers who review newspapers, radio and television broadcasts, and Internet publications.
This is the story of one country’s GMMP experience.
The 2015 GMMP took place on March 25. In Nepal, ASMITA, a women’s media organization whose name means “dignity” and “identity,” led the media monitoring effort.
Sarita Shrestha was the national coordinator in Nepal for the first GMMP in 1995 and in 2015 continued her involvement as a volunteer media monitor. She answered interview questions by e-mail. (The interview took place before the devastating earthquakes of late April and early May.)
Q. What was ASMITA’s involvement, and yours, with the GMMP from 1995 to 2015?
A. ASMITA was the only organization from Nepal doing the monitoring for the GMMP 2015 and it’s been always a great opportunity for us. I was national coordinator in Nepal in 1995. Then, in 1997 I had been selected for a scholarship to earn a master’s degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in the Philippines. After I did my master’s degree from AIM, I had an opportunity to go to Japan where I worked with different NGOs and the International Friendship Association.
After I came back to Nepal, I became again fully engaged with ASMITA. For GMMP 2015, there were a total of eight monitors including two male members. I was one of them and I am very proud of being part of it again.
Q. Did your involvement pre-date 1995?
A. In 1994, on behalf of ASMITA, I had an opportunity to attend the “Women Empowering Communication” conference in Bangkok which was organized by WACC in co-operation with Isis International and International Women’s Tribune Centre. There were more than 430 participants from 80 countries and it was an empowering experience to hear them sharing stories and ideas and working together.
The idea of the GMMP emerged in this conference. After the Bangkok conference I came back with the responsibility to do media monitoring for the first time as the national coordinator. ASMITA performed the role of national coordinator in the first, third, fourth and fifth GMMP.
Q. How has the GMMP evolved in Nepal?
A. During the first GMMP, radio news bulletins and television news bulletins were not coded on the monitoring day due to no accessibility to technical equipment in the organization so that programs can be recorded for the monitoring.
At that time there were very few media houses in Nepal. Among them, only four main print media were selected for the monitoring based on their circulation and effectiveness in the society. They were, Gorkhapatra (Nepali-language daily), The Rising Nepal (English daily), The Kathmandu Post (English daily) and Kantipur (Nepali daily)
Q. Why are you interested in the GMMP and what do you think is valuable about it?
A. This is the only kind of study that gives you a clear picture of women’s participation in today’s world as a news maker, news presenter or [in] world news. Such a study enables us to know the basic facts about women’s poor representation in the world’s news. The findings have been used in countless ways to illustrate global patterns in news content, to highlight the persistent lack of women in national news media, to start dialogue between media advocates and media practitioners and much more. The results will also be helpful to formulate further strategies to make women’s effective presentation in media.
Q. Do you see any changes in the Nepalese media from your work in gender equality?
A. We can see and feel the changes in Nepalese media as a whole. ASMITA has been playing an important role in this process. ASMITA has already been active in advocating women’s issues/concerns in the changed context through various means of communication -- radio programs, the ASMITA magazine, books and media materials, posters, documentaries etc. After 27 years, the organization is now a substantial advocacy group.
After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the number and impact of media increased every day. More than 6,568 newspapers have been registered. There are numbers of FM radios, television channels and online magazines, most directly or indirectly affiliated with a political party.
In 2002 and 2003, ASMITA conducted two studies on women and media, which revealed some striking problems regarding women and media in Nepal:
Therefore, from August 2008 to July 2009, ASMITA conducted media literacy programs in ten districts in cooperation with WACC. The local media are made aware of women’s issues and ASMITA was able to establish a lively discussion and information exchange between media producers and media consumers.
Some decades ago, there media hardly covered news on women but these days we can see media covering women’s issues frequently. Women can access FM radio even in remote areas where they can’t access TV or newspapers. So FM radios have been playing a vital role in changing women’s thinking and life. The language has been more polite than before on women’s issues in media.