Prof. Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, associate general secretary, World Council of Churches. © Peter Williams/WCC
Progress toward equality of men and women in the news media has ground to a halt, according to newly released results from the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP).
Research in 114 countries over 20 years reveals ongoing severe disparity between representation of women and men in news media, indicating that the portrayal of women in day-to-day journalism does not reflect their contribution to society. The study is GMMP’s fifth and largest on the portrayal and representation of women in the news media.
Findings indicate that, worldwide, women make up about 50% of the general population but only 24% of the persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news — exactly the same level found in the 2010 report.
Women’s relative invisibility in traditional news media has also crossed over into digital news delivery platforms. Only 26% of the people in internet news stories and media news “tweets” combined are women.
“The GMMP 2015 report examined the visibility, voice and mention of women and men in the news media and finds a sexism that has endured across decades and geographical boundaries, adapting to emerging media forms and thriving in all spaces in which news content is produced and shared,” said Dr Sarah Macharia, GMMP global coordinator.
The ecumenical family has an important role in strengthening the worldwide commitment to equality for women in the news media, said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, associate general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).”The GMMP report shows us that this is the kind of conversation we should be having while on the pilgrimage of justice and peace.”
Calling for an end to media sexism
The report also found that, overall, women remain more than twice as likely as men to be portrayed as victims as they were a decade ago, at 16 and eight percent respectively.
Findings indicated that there is a global glass ceiling for female news reporters in newspaper bylines and newscast reports, with 37% of stories reported by women, the same as a decade ago.
Given these findings, the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) and its GMMP coordinators are calling for an end to media sexism by 2020.
Phiri added WCC’s voice to that call. “Our prayer and hope is that, by the time we reach 2021, at the 11th WCC Assembly, we shall read a report that shows the news media has adopted a wider vision of equality and inclusion,” said Phiri. “With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, together we can transform the media to make women more visible.”
The GMMP is a project of the WACC, with support from the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. The first such survey of gender portrayal in news media was conducted in 1995, and at five-year intervals after that. GMMP 2015 is the largest research and advocacy initiative in the world on gender equality in and through the news.
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