With the support of the Canadian Commission to UNESCO, the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and France Médias Monde, UNESCO will launch the publication “Reporting on Violence against Women and Girls: a Handbook for Journalists” on 22 November 2019. The launch event will offer an exclusive preview of the handbook, and the opportunity to discuss media’s impact regarding VAWG.
“Addressing gender-based violence means addressing a subject that concerns humanity. Reflecting on biased representations, stereotypes, prejudices and violence against girls and women means taking part in change so that, at last, this violence is covered in the media in a way that fully reflects the concerns of our societies [...] Journalists can help to break the silence and take this issue out of the private sphere, where it is still too often relegated.» (Extract from « Reporting on Violence against Women and Girls: a Handbook for Journalists », UNESCO, 2019)
Violence against women and girls (VAWG) remains one of the most persistent barriers to gender equality and sustainable development. Estimates indicate that 1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence during their lifetime . It is a plague which is systematic and global, yet persistent in its invisibility and biased representation in media across societies.
Current extent of such reporting far from accurately reflect the prevalence and magnitude of this global but largely silent phenomenon. In addition, knowledge and capacity gaps among media professionals on how to approach the topic in an ethical and informed manner risk resulting in insensitive, misguided or even misleading reporting.
The media are our windows towards the world. Gender-based violence englobes difficult and often context specific and norm driven questions of power, rights and obligations. Media can impact on the achievement of gender equality, since they have the power and capacity to inspire change in norms, attitudes and behaviours by determining whose voices are heard, why, when and in what way.
The necessity of eliminating violence and discrimination against women and girls to achieve gender equality has rightfully been highlighted in regional and international development agendas, including Agenda 2030 and SDG 5, Goal 17 of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995).
II. The Publication
To assist media, UNESCO has produced a handbook for media professionals who seek to approach and highlight VAWG in an ethical and sensitized manner. It is an informative and practical guide touching upon particular gender-related types of violence, and includes specific examples, hands-on advice, definitions, data and recommendations for additional resources.
The book tackles media’s reporting on the following sub-themes: child and forced marriages, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, foeticides, “honour” crimes, trafficking of women and girls, sexual and online harassments, and violence against women in conflict. UNESCO portraits how each of these types of violence occurs as much in developing as in developed countries, and therefore concerns us all.
III. The Launch
With the support of the Canadian Commission to UNESCO, the Permanent Delegation of Canada to UNESCO and France Médias Monde, UNESCO will launch the publication “Reporting on Violence against Women and Girls: a Handbook for Journalists” the 22 November 2019. The launch event will offer an exclusive preview of the handbook, and the opportunity to discuss media’s impact regarding VAWG.
IV. Key messages
- Ethical journalism is inseparable from fact-based and gender-transformative reporting;
- Through improved reporting, media has the power to illuminate the extent as well as the individual and collective implications of VAWG for humanity;
- Media can help stop violence against women and girls by breaking the silence and regularly reporting about it;
- Media can shape public opinion and change the perception of these crimes in favor of a human-rights based awareness.
The launch will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Room X. The event will unfold in three parts.
1.00 p.m. – 1.30 p.m.: “Brown bag lunch”
Served in a space adjacent to Room X (Salon des délégués). Customized white ribbons will be distributed to attendees at the entrance.
1.30 p.m. – 1.50 p.m.: Opening of Session
Inaugural words by UNESCO Representative, by H.E the Ambassador of Canada to UNESCO Ms. Elaine Ayotte and Sébastien Goupil, Secretary General of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.
1.50 pm – 2.25 pm: Presentation of publication and discussion on media reporting on VAWG
Virginie Herz, International Journalist and Producer, Presenter of ActuElles on France 24, will animate a presentation by a representative of the Communication and Information Sector of the launched handbook. The exchange will serve to explain why there is a need for this practical resource for media, and how it can be used as a tool to encourage and support media practitioners to engage more in reporting on VAWG.
The presentation will be followed by an interactive discussion, where participants will be given the opportunity to take the floor.
2.25 pm – 2.30 pm: Closing of Session
Ms. Saniye Gülser Corat, Director, Division for Gender Equality, UNESCO
Master of Ceremony: Ms. Mirta Lourenço, Chief of Section for Media Development and Society, Sector for Communication and Information of UNESCO.
Author: Anne-Marie Impe