CNA News

Mediterranean journalists note the need to change narrative on gender equality

Journalists from various Mediterranean countries discussed on Thursday morning the need to change the way the narrative on gender equality is presented. The discussion took place on the sidelines of the High Level Conference “Women for the Mediterranean”, which takes place on Thursday and Friday in Nicosia and is co-organised by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in cooperation with the Office of the Commissioner for Gender Equality in Cyprus.

Journalists from Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Portugal and Italy raised the need to increase the representation of women in news stories. One way in which this can be done, they said, is by increasing the use of women experts on subjects that are, traditionally, still male-dominated, as politics, economics, technology and sport.

At the same time, they highlighted the difficulties that can arise, considering the time pressure to break a story, while it is easier for journalists to fall back on their usual sources. However, they noted that it is worth making an extra effort to search for new sources, which may also offer a new perspective on the subject.

Moreover, another factor cited as a barrier is the fact that it is often difficult for women to speak as experts because they have more responsibilities to deal with, such as balancing work and family life, and thus they are not readily available.

It was also mentioned in the discussion that the representation of women in the news does not necessarily have to be through the promotion of women’s stories or achievements, but there is a need to increase the equal representation of stories of both genders as stories of human interest.

However, the journalists noted that it is worth highlighting stories that show the different impact a series of crises have on women, be it wars, the climate crisis, migration, or the pandemic.

Another issue discussed was the correct use of terminology and inclusive language that takes into account the gender perspective. In particular, reference was made to the UN’s call to refrain from the use of the term “victim” with regard to women who have been subjected to violence, but rather use the term “survivor”, which is considered more empowering, while journalists also mentioned that a woman should not be defined by the incident that stigmatized her, as it is not part of her identity, but just something that happened to her.

Journalists mentioned good practices that are or should be used in the media, such as the adoption of internal guidelines on how to handle incidents of violence, or the use of correct terminology. In addition, the importance of employing women journalists to cover issues in politics, economics, technology, sports, etc. was highlighted, as well as the importance of having women in editorial and management positions in media organisations, as they can influence both the stories covered and the way in which the are covered.

Cyprus News Agency is the media sponsor of the Conference, which starts on Thursday afternoon and ends on Friday afternoon. The conference will discuss topics related to women’s economic empowerment, women’s entrepreneurship, violence against women and girls and the impact of the climate crisis on women.