More needs to be done to Ensure Gender Sensitivity in Media

More needs to be done to Ensure Gender Sensitivity in Media

KATHMANDU : The webinar on ‘Gender Sensitivity in Media’ organized by World Communicators’ Council (WCC), Nepal Chapter on Wednesday recommended on the need for  change in media structure, reengineering of finances, promoting best practices, and being sensitive on use of language and content presentation among others to ensure gender sensitivity in media.

Dr. Samiksha Koirala, Gender and Media Researcher  presenting her research findings said that most of the debates on gender sensitivity are focused on representation but it is important to talk about media environment, such as facilities provided by the media houses and the behavior of colleagues and editors. She also highlighted on the need of education and training on gender sensitivity and the policy to address various issues related to it. Similarly, Manika Jha, Bureau Chief at Province Number 2 for Annapurna Post Daily highlighted the various issues faced by women journalists such as questioning about their capability, lack of trust, space provided to the news related to women and the way the news written by women journalist is treated.

“While talking about gender in media we need to look both after participation and content, however, the online media has been sensationalizing issues to get more readership and viewership”, said Babita Basnet, Gender and Media Rights Activist. Citing examples of how women issues are reported by online media during COVID-19, she said that media should be more sensitive and the contents should not be sensationalized.

During the session, patriarchy was blamed to have serious impact on the portrayal and representation of women. According to Umesh Pokharel, Media Rights Activist,  patriarchal lens is mostly used to produce and disseminate content related to women issues. “Women are given issues with patriarchal lens; the women are thus stereotyped in the media specially in advertisements. Women are shown in most of the household activities and products while men are shown as a strong and bread winner,” said Pokharel.

Kapil Kafle, Chief Editor of Samacharpatra national daily, said that the content of women in media depends on how media set the agenda. “Even during the COVID-19, issues of women and problem faced by them are rarely reported. It is mainly due to the structure of the society which is highly guided by patriarchy, less presence of women in decision making level in media and lack of research related to women issues,” said Kafle.

Laxman Datt Pant, Chairperson of Media Action Nepal, who also leads the WCC, Nepal Chapter highlighted the need of reengineering of investment in media houses so that equal participation is ensured at all levels in the media. He further said that in order to ensure gender equality in terms of content and leadership role is only possible once the orientation and investment in media is reengineered. Pant also focused on the need for more research and the need to pressurize the concerned stakeholder based on research for gender sensitivity in media.

The webinar was moderated by Kriti Bhuju, Executive Committee Member of WCC, Nepal.