In the media in general, a high percentage of issues are presented from a man’s perspective. Research has documented that many women journalists in mainstream media adopt this perspective, making programming ‘seen with the eyes of women’ rare. Awareness of this is a first step in changing it, but there are also practical obstacles to change. For example, male experts are usually much better known than their female colleagues, which limits the visibility of and access to female expertise. Advocates of a more gender-balanced media have therefore recommended to map ‘experts’ in as many areas as possible, including capable and insightful women. This would make female experts more visible and provide reporters with easy access to call/invite one of them to participate in a programme. This is one way of making change possible, which can also be effective in a community radio station.
Source-mapping is another good and simple way of identifying whether there is actually a need to change. When mapping the sources interviewed for radio programmes, it is easy to see whether women and men each have an equal share of airtime. Furthermore, there is a tendency in much media work that when women are heard on the radio, it is more often in the role as the victim of circumstances than that of the expert proposing solutions. Source mapping can also be helpful here. Source mapping should identify the gender, experience-base, political orientation, community connections etc. Source mapping is also a good tool when checking political, economic, cultural, and ethnic balance in the programming.
Based on background work carried out by Genderlinks and GEMSA in Southern Africa, a follow-up study was carried out in Mozambique to map some of the identifiable barriers to women’s involvement in the media, including in community radio. An important element mentioned here is the importance of gender mainstreaming in reporting. As the resulting recommendations are of a general nature, they are shared here:
Recommendations on how to support women’s entry into (community) media:
- Address the cultural barriers for women entering into journalism — this includes the developing and the using of communication materials on TV, radio and in schools.
- Attract more women candidates of high quality — this includes supporting internships, organizing writing competitions and setting up talks in schools.
- Create more incentives — this includes supporting training for journalists, supporting English classes and internships, and sponsoring women journalists to take part in conferences.
- Support media organizations develop a gender policy — this includes running workshops for editors and senior women journalists, and supporting media houses to develop a gender policy.
- Create more opportunities in the provinces — this includes supporting a bulletin to link up women journalists in the provinces.
- Encourage gender mainstreaming in all coverage — this includes on-the job-training, workshops, organizing media trips and media monitoring. Quoted from internal working paper of the UNESCO/UNDP Media development project, 2003.
In general, a regular ‘service check’ on the image and roles given to women and men in (community radio) programming is important.