WOMEN FOR CHANGE: BUILDING A GENDERED MEDIA IN SOUTH ASIA
Regional Consultation and Training Workshop, New Delhi, 1-5 May 2018
Twenty-four delegates from seven South Asian countries participated in a capacity-building workshop between 1-5 may 2018, sponsored by UNESCO and SWAN (South Asia Women’s Network) in New Delhi, India. The workshop was designed with a view to provide the participants with a skill set on the proposed Baseline Study that aims to assess the status of women in media in South Asia including portrayal of women in promotional media like advertising across various media platforms. The Indian institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and the Institute for Studies in industrial Development (ISID) jointly conducted the workshop. The faculty was drawn from within both the institutes and industry. ISID provided the venue for the residential workshop.
IIMC and ISID are the Media Research Coordinators for the UNESCO SWAN project on “Women for Change: Building a Gendered Media in South Asia”. This project was launched at SWAN’s Sixth Annual Conference in Thimphu (Bhutan) in September 2014, with the participation of all nine SWAN countries : Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Phase I of the project was completed in October 2016 with the finalization of the Gender Sensitive Guidelines for Women in Media in South Asia (GSGWMSA). Phase II of the project, currently under way, comprises Secondary and Primary Research for the Baseline Survey on the Status of Women in Media. IIMC and ISID are providing the knowledge tools and technical tools, and will mentor and coordinate all aspects of the Baseline Survey. The Survey itself will be conducted by participating institutions and individuals in each country. As part of this process, the Guidelines for Secondary Research were circulated by the Media Research Coordinators in October 2017. The secondary research process is currently under way.
The May 2018 workshop trained the participants on the research methodology that would be adopted in the proposed baseline surveys in all the nine south Asian countries with an aim to engage relevant stakeholders in advocating for equal rights for women in South Asia. The desired outcome of the baseline survey is to compile and collate research findings and insights from South Asia for policy intervention in various countries towards building a gendered media.
The Regional Baseline Study will specifically advocate for adoption of gender-sensitive guidelines in media and policy directives by the participating countries, viz. India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Bhutan. Based on data and information gathered by each of these nine countries in the South Asian region, the study would advocate for an evidence-based action-plan to be taken up in bringing changes on the ground and in policy formulation.
The five-day capacity-building workshop focused on two broad areas:
- Impart skill sets of the study to participating teams to align their research efforts with the Objectives of the Baseline Study Project.
- Provide theoretical and practical orientation on the three major aspects of the Baseline Study: Research process, Skills and Research Methods.
The workshop was designed as a hands-on capacity building and training workshop, which included interactive training sessions and hands-on-skills on learning on how to work the sample population, conduct focus group interviews, in-depth interviews, media consumer survey and media content analysis and software learning, among others. The participants were also sensitized on the production of the proposed Gender Sensitivity Barometer GSB), a multi-media advocacy tool-kit and application that would aim at content creators and management in media, both news and promotional, to check their gender sensitivity in the content and at workplace.
The residential workshop hosted by ISID provided the participants with enough time beyond the workshop hours to discuss among themselves and with the faculty, issues specific to individual countries about the impending baseline survey in their respective countries. The participants found the workshop very useful, but wished the duration could have been longer that would have enabled them to learn and assimilate better.
The Chief Guest for the inaugural session held on 1 may 2018, Mr. Al Amin Yusuph Advisor, Communication, UNESCO encouraged participants to bring out their best by doing path-breaking research. He shared that the objectives of the “Women in Media” project were in sync with the objectives of UNESCO and its mandate. Mr. Al Amin highlighted the fact that there was indeed gender inequality in South Asia and women remain unrepresented in various places that matter. He also said that when women were portrayed in a stereotypical manner, it promoted inequality. The Gender sensitive indicator for the media (GSIM) guided most of the interventions of UNESCO, Mr. Al Amin shared.
Prof. Veena Sikri, Founding Trustee and Convener, SWAN, highlighted the commitment and abiding interest of all participants in ensuring the success of this project. The media in all its formats (print, electronic, online, including social media, entertainment and advertising) increasingly plays a vital role in opinion making and creating mind sets about women, particularly among the younger generation. That is why the Baseline Survey, covering all aspects of women working in the media and the portrayal of women through the media is so important. Several crosscutting issues, including gender based violence, the role of editors and owners, the existing laws that need revisiting, and the course syllabus in media schools that inadequately deal with gender issues, will be covered through the Baseline Survey and in the analysis of its results.
Professor Gita Bamezai and team from IIMC and Prof. Jaishri Jethwaney and Professor Seema Goyal from ISID provided the conceptual framework for the workshop and supervised all the various aspects in the conduct of the capacity building workshop for South Asia.