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Media professionals dedicated to raising gender awareness in China

Thursday 31 March 2016, by SIGNIS

Beijing, March, 31st, 2016 (GlobalTimes). Every year, the China Women’s News and the Media Research School with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences team up to organize a vote for “the news event of the year promoting gender equality." The organizers ask participants to select news events based on their relevance to gender equality and their affect on public awareness of gender.

Lu Xiaofei is the former editor-in-chief of the China Women’s News newspaper and winner of the Changjiang Taofen Awards, the country’s most respected journalism prize. She said that “the purpose of voting is, of course not voting itself, but promoting gender awareness". She notes that many newspaper executives really need this awareness on gender, because “many of them had little awareness of it before, which might create errors when they are in charge of overall journalistic practice".

Whilst some of the country’s media professionals might start to develop gender awareness quite late in their careers, there are many younger journalists who have volunteered to take part in workshops on media and gender equality over the past few years. For instance, in December 2014, the “Gender and China” media reporting workshop took place in Guangzhou, organized by Women Awakening, a charity organization promoting gender equality and women’s rights. Earlier this month, there was another workshop on gender and media that was attended by journalists from the entire country.

Feng Yuan has been examining media representations of women for 20 years, and said that even if it is getting better, there is still a long way to go. She notes that "Latin America and North America have media that clearly challenges stereotypes, while only 5 percent of Asian media reports do this," referring to recent research. Moreover, she stressed that the rise of the Internet and new media does not make the situation look any better.

The workshop offered insight and guidance on a series of gender related topics, including writing about domestic violence, sexual violence, women politicians, and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) groups.

The Communication University of China has now been working on a project that will integrate gender education into journalism schools around the country. Wu Weihua, an assistant professor at the Television and Journalism School with the Communication University of China is in charge of the project and said that the project does not ask journalism professors to immediately open a course on media and gender. "Instead, they add a few sessions on this topic, for two to four hours, in their classes on writing, photography, or film history. The ultimate goal is that when media majors graduate, they already have gender awareness and will apply it when they become media professionals," Wu said.

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