South Asia journalists discuss gender sensitivity in covering development stories

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Author: Rineeta Naik

The news media play a crucial role in helping people to understand the role of women and women’s issues as countries attempt to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. With that in mind, UN Women recently organized a workshop on this topic for 50 journalists from India, Maldives, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

Group photo of participants at the media workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals and gender, New Delhi. Photo: UN Women/Sarabjeet Singh Dhillon

The workshop, held on 7-8 December in New Delhi, improved the ability of the print, television and online journalists to hold their countries accountable for reaching the goals and in particular, the gender aspects of those goals. It was part of UN Women’s project on Media Capacity-Building on the Sustainable Development Goals and Gender.

The Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, adopted last September, are a significant step forward from the previous Millennium Development Goals because they are more comprehensive and include the gender dimensions of poverty, hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, employment, safe cities and peace and security. Goal 5 is to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” and gender-sensitive targets are integrated into the other goals.

Participants at the media workshop on the Sustainable Development Goals and gender, New Delhi. Photo: UN Women/Sarabjeet Singh Dhillon

UN Women had briefed Indian journalists traveling to cover the development goals summit, and in New York, it organized for South Asian journalists a briefing by UN Women Executive Director Lakshmi Puri and by the Sustainable Development Goals team led by Sylvia Hordosch. Ms. Puri emphasized the critical role of the media and civil society groups in informing the public about women’s participation and rights and in making sure governments actually take action on the goals.

During the journalist workshop in New Delhi in December, the participants discussed their own experiences in areas such as how to integrate women’s issues in media coverage, the role of gender in the conflicts in India’s Northeast, and gender violence and discrimination in legal reporting.

Briefing by UN Assistant Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Lakshmi Puri in New York. Photo: UN Women/Rineeta Naik

They said that with the Sustainable Development Goals, journalists should focus not so much on the goals themselves but rather on investigating how committed their governments are to carrying them out. That includes how those efforts are to be funded, including the allocation for women.

The journalists said the media should pay more attention to the role of women in all stories because all stories involve gender issues. They said the media should help change public attitudes about women. Younger people can be brought into this effort through social media, they said.

During the workshop, “a lot was shared on how to sharpen our media tools so that the message on the Sustainable Development Goals reaches women who have to become stakeholders in this whole attempt to reach the goals set by the UN to include women as equal citizens,” said Patricia Mukhim, the editor of The Shillong Times, a newspaper in India’s northeastern state of Meghalaya.

The workshop participants said there was a need for more discussion among journalists on the Sustainable Development Goals, and they suggested holding workshops for male journalists to increase their sensitivity to women’s issues.

For more information

Please contact: Rineeta Naik
Communications Analyst, UN Women India
Tel: +91-11-4045 2327 E-mail: rineeta.naik@unwomen.org