Call for more women’s participation in media

February 04, 2011 - 10:24:54 pm

DOHA: More women need to come in media sector and cultural bias towards media needs to be changed, according to experts at a panel discussion about women in journalism.

The event organised by Qatar Professional Women’s Network (QPWN), recently brought together some of the leading women journalists to speak about ‘Educating Women as Professional Journalists: A Journey in Empowerment.’

According to the Global Media Monitoring Project, at least 37 percent of the stories in the media are done by women. Men focus mainly on politics and government where, 67 percent of stories are done by males.

Studies have shown the stories by females have more female content and usually are focused to challenge the gender stereotype. In Middle East, 81 percent of the stories reinforces gender stereotype.

“Many women even today are against using their names or pictures in print,” said Buthaina Al Ansari, Founder and chairperson of Qatariat T&D holding company which publishes Qatariat magazine.

“There is need for women to voice opinion and come forward. To be successful in the field, they should always have professional people and learn from them rather than dictating to them. There is a need to change the mindset of the women themselves.”

Mary Dednsky and Janet Key, assistant professors in journalism focused on training methods used at Northwestern University to enable female students to work.

Focusing on challenges for women journalists in the region, they said that as Qatar evolves more authorities will b e forced to speak.

“With much international interest in the region, authorities can no longer be silent as change is coming. Authorities will be accountable for what happened and people will not take no for an answer,” said Dednsky, a long-time editor and reporter.

She was the first woman to be named Managing Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Another major challenge the media here have is self censorship, which is the cheapest censorship methods but can get deadly when important stories get replaced by mere marketing ones,” said Key, who had worked more than 25 years as a journalist for some of the world’s most respected news outlets, including United Press International, Newsweek, The New York Times, Business Week and the Chicago Tribune, before turning to academia.

Another speaker at the meeting, Malika Bilao from Al Jazeera focused on the challenges she had to face while taking up journalism as a career.

The Peninsula