‘Gender and Media’ – Our UNESCO Theme

Last week, we launched our ‘Special Reports’ which delved into multi-national examinations of fracking and student education ‘reforms’ – a word which has been used all too often to dress up financial cuts to important student services as progressive. These articles successfully highlighted the ways in which varied issues like this, pervade across borders, and even oceans. Whilst also underlining the need for this to be addressed comprehensively in the media.

This week, pan-continental examinations of Gender and Media are our focus as we aim to coincide with the UNESCO Global Forum on Gender and Media taking place in Bangkok from the 2nd to the 4th of December. Our hope is Pandeia can provide a platform that will alleviate some of the issues affecting young people attempting to gain entry to the media, whilst the Forum is linked to that. Its aims are to examine the role of the media and its gender issues as well as looking at the future of the global media market.

This week’s content is reflective of this. In Greece, domestic violence has increased by a staggering 47% in the last year, an issue covered in our article which investigates the ‘hidden consequences’ of the economic crisis at the expense of vulnerable social groups. The article goes onto to examine the reasons for this rise in incidents while laying the blame not solely on the economic crisis itself: “we can only blame the economic crisis for intensifying the incidents and increasing their frequency, but not for creating violent men”.

Translated from an article in the Copenhagen student media comes a fascinating interview spinning current views on ‘sex tourism’ onto the prevalence of Western women seeking out Gambian men. The article shows the expression of how global inequality creates new markets for sexual meetings, migrations and money streams and how our observations of it are changing: “the international research on the topic has developed the notion ‘transactional sexual relation’ during the recent years. The notion of ‘transactionality’ is used as a more empiric, accurate term and a less theoretical, predetermined term than ‘prostitution’ and ‘sex work’, since the emphasis is on the fact that both parts of the relationship have the ability to act, though in a shifting relationship of dominance.”

Pandeia’s International Perspective this week looks into the new gender category in Bangladesh, affecting 10,000 Hijras in their right to participate in government decisions as a full citizen, something particularly marked given similar decisions made in Germany. Adil Mahmood’s piece offers an intriguing insight into how the legislation and in particular its specific terming has the power to affect the gender issues worldwide: “We can obviously appreciate the fact that the government took a stance in favour of those who neither identify as being male or female. However, in choosing to only allow the term ‘Hijra’ they are not thinking about the international perspective. Now, the choice is whether people would prefer a flawed term in law or policy which will undoubtedly bring more sufferings, or would rather point out the flaws and give the government the chance to correct those.”

We also have a comparative piece from Scandinavia which discusses the financial incentives employed in Danish Universities in response to gender inequalities amongst staff. It is set in response to an EU survey last year which ranked Denmark in the bottom five nations for employing women in research roles: the figures currently standing that for every one woman appointed as a professor, five men are given the same role throughout the country’s institutions.

In Spain, our focus is turned to gender inequalities within journalism itself as national media companies focus more on an insular crisis than on their workers: something that is apparent from the 80% of men dominating the field throughout the country. Aida Peláez’s edited piece focuses on the positive response made by journalists and professionals in attempt to tackle this inequality: “The Spanish Federation of Journalists has joined a global protest to stop these criminals and sexist attitudes against women journalists that only want censorship and seek to silence the professionals”.

We also lead with a translated interview with Saudi Arabia’s first female director on being labeled ‘un-Islamic’. Her perceived crime? Making a documentary highlighting normal life for women and girls in Saudi Arabia a country with heavy restrictions placed on the media industry and on women. Her story is enlightening and perhaps more than any other highlights UNESCO’s hopes and aims for their forum.

In the near future we will also have content highlighting the growing gender issue for new parents in the Netherlands, as well as a striking interview from Iceland – the country with the highest gender equality in the world. To supplement this we will also feature a Scandinavian article which deals with the topic of men and Gender inequality discussing the recent decisions of Oslo University. Finally we have a thought-provoking piece from the Netherlands looking at the issue of slut-shaming and ‘whoreophobia’ and its denigrating effects on Dutch women.

Our new theme has prompted a great response from our contributors and we really hope you find it as engaging and diverse as we did compiling it.

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