Global Conference on Media and Gender 2-4 Dec 2013 at Imperial Queens Park Hotel, Bangkok
2013 Global Forum on Media and Gender Officially Begins
By Kirana Kittikoonthana
The 2013 Global Forum on Media and Gender officially launched on the morning of Dec. 2 with participants coming from over 80 countries in order to discuss and deliberate the importance of increasing gender equality and securing the role of women in today’s media.
Mr. Janis Karklins, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, gave the commencement speech, and raised the issue of gender inequality and the lack of media coverage about this problem. Mr. Karklins also lamented the problems of violence towards female journalists and the underrepresentation of women as media practitioners on the whole, globally speaking.
The forum’s three main outcomes are to become the framework for the development of gender equality, to provide input for the debate in 2015 and to plan ways to improve in these areas after the 2015 UN conference.
Echoing these sentiments, Thailand’s Minister of Education, Mr. Chaturon Chaisang, highlighted the forum’s objectives as the promotion of the free flow of ideas, peace, sustainability, human rights and the importance of gender equality.
The minister said he was proud that the Prime Minister of Thailand, Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, is a woman and has launched many programs, scholarships and funding to help empower women in Thailand.
“For media to produce coverage that is complete and diverse, it is essential that media content goes deeper than male-centric and stereotypical perspectives. All journalists, both male and female, can work to create an enabling environment for gender quality,” said Mr. Chaturon.
The minister emphasized the important role that education plays in addressing and diminishing the inequality issues and that empowering women can help ensure a better media environment for all,
Several speakers heralded this forum as a big milestone towards achieving gender equality in the media sphere, that began in Beijing in 1995, during the Fourth World Conference on Women when the Beijing Platform for Action was initiated. This platform serves as a blueprint to promote an increase women’s participation in media and as a means to work towards gender equality in the workplace. The UN and its sister organizations have since made efforts to eliminate the gender gap in society, specifically in the media field.
Journalists’ safety, especially female journalists, is also becoming a more pressing issue as media has been becoming much more prevalent online compared to traditional print media.
Dr. Eun-Ju Kim, a representative from International Telecommunication Union (ITU) asserted that women do not get full access to technology, connectivity and media as a tool for growth and presented statistics to support the importance of having more women in the workplace as not only does this directly results in an increase in efficiency, but it also helps, economic growth.
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, and Mr. Luc Stevens, a representative for current UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, addressed similar issues and expressed her wishes that participants could have a productive discussion that could truly lead to a tangible change in our future.
ISESCO (the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Director-General Mr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri thanked the government of Thailand and UNESCO for hosting such an important forum and stated that the Islamic community also believes in gender equality and that ISESCO has been working to establish training centers in Islamic regions. He said he was confident that participants from all areas of media would contribute to this debate.
The conference continues for two more days and offers participants a chance to discuss issues about gender equality and women’s roles within the media, and hopefully can help stakeholders find a way to ensure a more efficient and equal future.