ethics of journalism
freedom of speech and expression

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GENDER DISCRIMINATION

GENDER EQUALITY IN MEDIA ORGANIZATIONS

» The media has a responsibility to lead by example and news organisations in the Asian or Pacific region can play a key role by adopting equal opportunity policies for their employees. These media groups or organizations must also ensure that the relevant policies are communicated to employees as a matter of routine. As such, all policies should include provisions for diversity and the inclusiveness of marginalized groups, while also imparting training on gender equality for decision-makers at the middle and senior editorial levels. The training can also extend to the top management of the establishment. In-house committees, dealing with matters related to gender, are also recommended for media companies with more than 500 employees. This will help them deal with complaints and issues, while promoting an equal opportunity work environment. 

» Positive action is needed to overcome direct and indirect discrimination at work. The media should conduct self-initiated and independent gender assessments of their own organizations. Steps to ensure equality can include, but should not be limited to, audits to determine pay gaps and differences between men and women in employment conditions and contracts. These audits should guarantee anonymity, transparency and be of a participatory nature. All the findings of such initiatives must be acted upon with appropriate strategies to ensure gender parity. 

» Companies should consider implementing affirmative employment strategies to target more women in male-dominated areas such as the executive level and senior or midlevel editorial ranks. Affirmative action is also required to ensure the mentoring of junior women professionals in newsrooms and other sections of media houses. Also, it is important to encourage women from disadvantaged classes, castes and ethnic groups to join the field of journalism. It is equally important to support the ambitions of women hailing from regional, remote or conflict ridden areas. 

» Media companies must appreciate and understand the benefits of family-friendly working conditions, along with the wellbeing and satisfaction for all workplace employees. They can strive towards simple goals, such as providing transport after late shifts, childcare arrangements, implementation of maternity and paternity leave, as well as flexible work arrangements, for employees. 

» Sexual harassment is a violation of human rights and must be aggressively eliminated. There is a need to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to sexual harassment at the workplace. For this, an effective complaint mechanism must be introduced in every organization. The policy against sexual harassment can be reinforced through appropriate training initiatives, such as workshops, to promote gender sensitivity. 

» There is a need to address the root causes of gender insensitivity in the print and electronic media. In many cases, there are ingrained perceptions about the social and cultural values of women and girls. It is essential, therefore, for media houses and professionals to implement gender-sensitive codes of ethics. A key part of this is ensuring gender-related orientation for men and women journalists in the pre-hiring phase and also while these professionals are in service. It is also important to ensure that sensitivities are taken into account and guidelines followed when reporting on violence against women. 

» Journalists, script-writers and presenters/anchors must be provided with appropriate written material and be trained to avoid or counter sexist/derogatory language which is still in common use. 

» The media has a responsibility to inform and educate the public that gender equality, under international conventions, is a fundamental human right. It must also highlight stories of deprivation faced by girls, women and disadvantaged communities. Journalists can illustrate how the contribution of women is essential to improving pay and work conditions for society as a whole. Publications can highlight the contribution of women at the workplace and their changing role in decision-making. Some reports can focus on the negative impact of discriminatory laws and policies as well as retrogressive ideological or sociocultural attitudes, customs and practices. 

PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS AND UNIONS

» Unions must take active steps to increase the representation of women among their ranks. A quota system or media-based proportional representation can ensure the genuine representation and participation of women in unions. This will, in turn, enable unions to grow by attracting more women. It can also enable the capacity-building of women who are part of the media. 

» Unions should amend constitutions and statutes to make them more women-friendly and commit to the promotion of gender equality in all organizational matters. This should include reserve or additional seats for women on executive and decision-making bodies as well as a quota system for women's participation in congresses, executive bodies, committees, negotiation teams, education and training. Ultimately, this will promote gender equality and raise awareness on women's issues, while also developing solidarity, empowering women and changing conservative attitudes. 

» All unions should implement gender equity and model their sexual harassment policies on those already in existence through the region. Some examples to follow can be the SAMSN Charter on Gender Equity for Media and Journalism in South Asia which can be proposed and adopted by media organizations in the Asia and Pacific regions. 

» Unions can create a checklist, based on which action for gender equity can be monitored in the workplace, among employers and even governments. These should include articles against sexual harassment in collective bargaining agreements and urge governments to improve sexual harassment legislation. The aims of the campaign should include regular salary reviews and promote good practice in payment agreements. 

GOVERNMENT, MEDIA AND CIVIL SOCIETY

» Gender equity training is needed and desired by men and women media workers in the Asia and Pacific region. A key strategy is needed to improve working environments for men and women to help people better understand issues at work. This will enable them to combat bullying, harassment and discrimination at work. More awareness is needed on gender equity and the rights of employees. Initiatives should focus on the parity of wages, working conditions and entitlements.