GMMP co-ordinator is named ‘Gender Equality Champion’
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GMMP co-ordinator is named ‘Gender Equality Champion’

Free Press Unlimited has named Sarah Macharia, co-ordinator of WACC’s Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) as its first Gender Equality Champion for its Media4Women Campaign, which shares the stories of women “who are already working towards gender equality in the media.”

Since the first GMMP was launched in 1995, there have only been “small gradual changes” in the way women are represented in the news media, said Macharia in a an interview conducted as part of the campaign. “Over the years we have seen widespread underrepresentation, misrepresentation, and marginalisation of women in the print media, TV, radio, and since 2010 also on online news websites and Twitter. The issues are common across countries, across regions, throughout the entire 25 years.”

Macharia also notes that the 2020 GMMP, preliminary results of which will be released this week, indicate that “inequality, discrimination, and marginalisation have been more acute” during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The focus on the inequalities that are present in our society has become much sharper. Will we see an even more severe focus on some issues? We will have to wait for the results, but one thing is certain, reporting in a crisis exposes how the media views those who are ordinarily marginalized, those who historically, have been ignored,” she said. “I think the results will be quite revelatory.”

Macharia stressed the importance of understanding how media influences views on gender. “First of all, at a global level, there seems to be a lack of acknowledgement that the media are important in shaping gender norms. Media need to be included in global gender policy so they can play their part in interventions to promote gender equality.”

Media professionals need to study the data. “Once you look at the data, your mind is re-tuned because the statistics are indisputable.”

She adds: “We are not asking journalists and editors in newsrooms to be gender equality activists; we are simply asking for professionalism from a gender perspective.”

When asked about how the GMMP addresses inclusivity in its research, Macharia notes that GMMP has encouraged participating countries to formulate three additional indictors they wanted to monitor that allow for the collection of intersectional data. She cites the example of Latin America, where teams decided to ask a question on Indigenous women.

However, she adds, “at a global level, the data is then not solid enough to be included in the general analysis.”

This also applies to the issue of sexual minorities, she says. “Usually, less than 1% of people in the news are categorised as belonging to a sexual or gender minority. We must also keep in mind the context of each country. In some countries there is a general acceptance, but in others it is taboo and punishable by death. This influences the collection of data and is a point of attention for me and the GMMP in the future.

Read the full interview here.


Photo above: Courtesy of Free Press Unlimited 

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