How women and men are represented in the media is a key indicator of progress towards gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s human rights.
How women and men are represented in the media is a key indicator of progress towards gender equality and the fulfilment of women’s human rights. With its focus on women’s visibility and voice in the world’s news media over the past 20 years, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) has assembled a unique body of data charting the distance ance already travelled, and the journey that remains. Two decades after the Beijing Platform for Action identified the media as one of the ‘areas of particular urgency that stand out as priorities for action’ in advancing gender equality and women’s human rights, where do things stand?
Since 1995, the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP) at five-year intervals, has measured the pace of change in women’s media representation and participation. The findings presented in this 2015 GMMP report are troubling. Although in the decade 1995 to 2005 there was a slow but steady increase in women’s visibility in the news, the decade 2005 to 2015 has been one of stagnation. Women are the subjects of television, radio and print news coverage only a quarter of the time. They are only 19 per cent of experts appearing in the stories.There are more women reporting than in 1995, but still only around 37 per cent. There are some important regional variations within the data, and the global situation is not completely negative. But overall the many detailed findings from the 2015 GMMP paint a picture in which unequal gender power relations are entrenched and validated, and in which gender stereotypes are replicated and reinforced by the world’s news media.
Though the GMMP itself cannot answer why this is the case, its invaluable contribution is to provide a strongly evidence-based riposte to the regular but unsubstantiated claim that gender equality has been taken on board by the media and that ‘things have changed’. The media are a powerful force in shaping how we see the world, what we think, and often how we act. They should be an example of gender equality, depicting women in diverse jobs and situations and representing women in all areas of coverage. And yet the media is still, in large part, doing the opposite. As the 2015 GMMP makes clear, the need for action in relation to the media is no less urgent now than it was two decades ago. Women and girls are half of humanity. Giving equal time and weight to their stories is an important part of creating a better, freer world for all of us.