Nelly Bassily | March 4, 2013
Each year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. To find out more about IWD, please visit: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
Through the years, Farm Radio Weekly has marked IWD with special editions, with stories covering the struggles and triumphs of women farmers and the continuing challenges to African women’s rights and well-being. Issue #191, from March 2012, celebrated successful African rural women and contains links to several external sites on the subject. It can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/topic/issue-191/
The stories in this special edition of FRW examine cultural beliefs and practices that demonstrate pervasive gender inequality. Yet, in each of these stories – about female genital mutilation, and the age of marriage – we see important progress. This progress is the result of women and girls understanding their rights and expressing their opinions, often with the vital support of their families and communities.
These sorts of issues can be very sensitive to discuss. When reporters and radio stations cover topics such as harmful traditional practices or cultural beliefs that disempower women, they may face adversity. But broadcasts on these topics often have great impact. There is great value in simply starting a discussion on taboo topics.
The following resources may help you explore sensitive topics, including gender-based and human rights issues:
-Journalists for Human Rights website: http://www.jhr.ca/en/index.php
-International Journalists Network’s “Human Rights” page: http://ijnet.org/topics/human-rights
-“A Gender and Media Advocacy Toolkit”: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/assets/texts/pdf/handbook_wacc_mission_possible_2008_en.pdf
Inter Press Service (IPS), with the support of the Dutch MDG3 Fund, has published three handbooks that look at how to report on gender: The Gender and Development Glossary, Gender Relations in Productive and Reproductive Work, and Reporting Gender Based Violence.
The toolkits offer guidelines on how to accurately represent issues related to gender. For example, should we use the word “housewife”? Or is “homemaker” a better term? How can news reports be gender-sensitive? The toolkits help reporters write about gender issues in a way that does not perpetuate stereotypes, but informs and encourages public debate.
–The Gender and Development Glossary (third edition) guides writers through the maze of gender-related terms. It presents the meanings of 141 key terms in gender and development, many of them recently updated.
–Gender Relations in Productive and Reproductive Work focuses on how journalists and the media portray the unequal conditions faced by women in the work force. It looks at gender stereotypes and how these reinforce gender inequalities.
–Reporting Gender Based Violence covers religious and harmful traditional practices, domestic violence, sexual and gender-based violence, femicide, sex work and trafficking, sexual harassment, armed conflicts, HIV and AIDS, child abuse, the role of men, the criminal justice system, and the costs of gender-based violence.
These three publications are free of charge and can be downloaded at: http://www.ips.org/mdg3/publications/.
Here are some links to information and resources on the topics explored in this week’s FRW:
Female genital mutilation
February 6 is the International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. On this past February 6, UNICEF and the UN Population Fund released a joint report noting progress in reducing the rates of FGM in Africa and the Middle East.
Here is some recent news coverage of the subject:
-“Q&A: It’s the Beginning of the End for FGM,” based on an interview with Mae Azango, a Liberian journalist whose coverage of FGM led to her persecution but also put pressure on the government:
-“Q&A: FGM Is About Culture, Not Religion,” based on an interview with Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/qa-fgm-is-about-culture-not-religion/
-Information on the state of FGM in the Gambia, from The Daily Observer (Banjul): http://allafrica.com/stories/201302071328.html?viewall=1
-A report on the campaign against FGM in Uganda, from the Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Africa/2013/0206/Campaign-against-female-genital-mutilation-gaining-ground-support-results
Rural women and girls have distinctive health issues: Farm Radio International resource package and Voices newsletter, published November 2007:
-links to scripts: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-82/