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Pacific media urged to promote gender equality

Friday 20 November 2015, by SIGNIS

Noumea, Brussels, November 20th, 2015 (SIGNIS/Radio NZ). Gender inequality, discrimination and stereotypes in the region’s media are on the agenda at a workshop in Noumea this week.

The conference, attended by communications and government representatives from 14 Pacific countries, is being run by the SPC, FemLink Pacific and the Australian government.

FemLink Pacific’s Sharon Bhagwan Rolls told Mary Baines the media plays a critical role in informing people and initiating dialogue about women’s rights.

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Pacific media interview a political leader, French Polynesia’s Oscar Temaru

SHARON BHAGWAN ROLLS: Talking about gender equality and reaching an audience or talking about women’s humans rights and sexual and reproductive health rights, how can we reach an audience? Whether it’s not just limited to news reports, but where radio is key across our Pacific region and where there are some growing opportunities to utilise a multimedia platform, such as social media, Facebook, Twitter, when we want to involve younger people. So some of the key messages coming out is really we probably need to get better at knowing our audiences, knowing when women might be listening or reading or even knowing what it is what the news media might want as well in terms of tips to cover some of the stories.

MARY BAINES: What are we actually seeing in the media at the moment, do you think women’s perspectives are being properly included?

SBR: This is going to be really interesting because very shortly, in fact early next week, the 2015 global media monitoring project report will come out, and there will be a Pacific perspective as well. Because Australia, NZ, as well as Fiji and Solomon Islands have contributed data. But just looking back at results. One of the things we are finding women aren’t being fully represented, particularly in terms of government news or as key spokespeople from government is because we don’t have enough women in other decision making roles, key decision making roles where there would be government officials. But what we have seen in the past is more about celebrities, so they are not even Pacific Island women who are making the media content, or as victims and not enough in terms of the kinds of leadership roles. So there needs to be a way in which tools can be provided to be able to monitor what is being portrayed, and then that should also then inform communication strategies around gender equality.

MB: So you think the media really can play a big role in challenging stereotypes and pushing for more gender equality?

SBR: Absolutely. There are many different ways in which media organisations can take responsibility. So they can think about the way in which women are represented, or they can also think about what are we doing in terms of enhancing the invisibility of women in our society when those of us, if you just take public broadcasters, we have the widest reach, what does that mean when we are not actually featuring a story, not just about a woman but women in leadership or women’s contribution to national development.

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