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UNICEF organises workshop on ‘Gender Sensitive Reporting and Writing’ for scribes

Bhubaneswar: To promote equal and sensitive representation of gender in the media UNICEF Odisha organized a workshop on Gender Sensitive Reporting and Writing for journalists in Odisha on August 25.

According to global data presented at the workshop, only 23 percent of the content in the media are related to women while less than half of stories were reported by women. Data also showed that among spokespersons quoted, only 19% were women.

A checklist for media was presented at the workshop, giving tips to journalists on how they can make their stories more gender-sensitive, challenge social norms, and ensures that the voices of women are equally heard. Legislations such as The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 exist to prohibit indecent portrayal of women through advertisements, publications, writings, paintings among others.

The checklist also included gender-sensitive methods for reporting on crime against women and emphasizes on publishing follow-up stories to write on the issue even as the focus is on the crime survivor.

The participants discussed the various challenges and barriers they face within their workspace and in the external environment related to gender-sensitive reporting, especially since most women do not make it to decision making positions within media organisations.

Addressing the media Dr Monika Nielsen, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Odisha said, “Gender equality is essential to realizing the mandate of UNICEF to uphold the rights of all children. Gender norms harm both girls and boys. Harmful practices such as child marriage, exploitation, and child labour are often a result of behaviours and practices stemming from gender norms. As we recover from the pandemic, it is a critical time to discuss Gender equality, shifting power relations between genders, and addressing discriminatory norms and gendered barriers.”

Speaking on the role of media on gender, Communication and Advocacy Specialist, UNICEF Radhika Srivastava said, “Media plays a crucial role in changing mindsets and perceptions. A gender-sensitive media can promote greater gender equality and challenge the patriarchal system of our society.”

She urged media houses to include sources who are women and can provide a woman’s perspective while ensuring equal representation from women. She said it is important to explore an issue from a woman’s perspective and report on how women are impacted by it.

This is especially important during disasters that Odisha so often faces, she said.

Explaining the various stages of gender equality Gender Specialist, UNICEF Madhuri Das, said, “Gender must be considered at all levels of news production: from the editorial department where decisions are made about what stories to cover, to the field where stories are gathered, to the final publication of the story with headlines and visuals. Our goal is to create a gender-equal society and in this, the media can play a very constructive role. Charity begins at home. So as a media house, all need to be very mindful of the impact of gender-sensitive reporting. Media houses should not do something just for the sake of sensation and high earned TRPs.”

A group activity was also conducted among the scribes present in the house. The working journalists shared their thoughts and challenges in gender stereotype reporting and writing. The participants were felicitated with participation certificates.

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