“Women must not accept; she must challenge she must not be awed by that it has been built up around her she must reverence that woman in her which struggles for expression”. -Margaret Sanger
“There is no chance of the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on one wing.” – Swami Vivekananda
Media is a part of culture and society. It is widely accepted that media are transmitters of culture and engines behind globalizing cultures. We live in a globalizing age in which people around the world participate in a single information order. Because of globalization and the power of internet, people from Caracas to Cairo are able to receive the same popular music, news, films and television programs. There is a clear intersection between women’s empowerment and media development in the globalizing world. Media were explicitly implicated in the second and third waves of women’s empowerment. The proliferation of media, the explosion of new technologies and the emergence of social media in many parts of the world have provided multiple sources for access to gender related information and knowledge. While inequalities and gender stereotypes exist in social structures and the minds of people, media have the potential to propagate and perpetuate or ameliorate these. So, media workers can play an important role in opening up thinking of gender equality and gender-based stereotypes through media.
Before discussing the topic “Media: empowering women in a globalize world”- it is important to define the concept of ‘media’, ‘empowerment’ and ‘globalization’
What is media?
The term media is defined as a means of communication that operates on a large scale, reaching and involving virtually everyone in the society to a greater or lesser degree. Media feed the people with the latest information and create the need for change in contemporary society. Media plays a vital role in dissemination of information. Media is the today’s most powerful vehicle in molding of beliefs, attitudes, values and lifestyles. By becoming more gender aware in content and language, media can present a clearer and more accurate picture of the roles and responsibilities of both men and women in the society. It also paved the way for greater courage of human rights issues, and the condition of marginalized social groups.
Media: Types and Influences
Media has become an integral part of our lives and cannot be separated from our lives. The media include a wide variety of forms including print media, electronic media and new age media. Print media includes newspapers, books and pamphlets. Electronic media includes television and radio while the new age media include the internet and mobile phones. It is worth remembering that there have been three recent revolutions in the history, i.e. agrarian revolution in farming, industry revolution & mass production and information revolution that provides global access. We are now in the midst of information revolution. Due to continuing developments in media technology, we are flooded by a huge volume of non-stop information. Media technologies allow us to take part ‘virtually ‘in occasions and activities in other parts of the world.
Definition of empowerment of Women
Empowerment is about people- women and men- taking control over their lives, setting their own agendas, gaining skills, building self-confidence, participating in decision-making process and solving problems. Empowerment requires having access to and control over resources and the benefits that are derived from development efforts. It is both a process and an outcome.
Economic empowerment of women means – ensure women’s full participation in mainstream economic activities including decision making, implementation, access & control and enjoy equal benefits. Social empowerment of women means – the transformation of attitudes and beliefs about the rights, roles and capacities of women has enabled them to participate more fully in various spheres of life. Political empowerments of women means- take positive discrimination measures for women to ensure equal participation of women in politics. WHAT IS GLOBALIZATION?
Globalization means to know about the social, political and economic empowerment of the women through their status. Globalization is a mode of sharing of the experiences, exchange of ideas, technology and network of the institutions and organizations through bilateral and multilateral arrangements. There are various means by which globalization mitigate the cross border problems with the help of air planes, telephone services, e-mails and instant capital flows. Globalization strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women organizations. It is the phenomenon of increased integration of the world economy as evidenced by the international trade and factor mobility. In the feminist analysis of globalization, two views are existent regarding the impact of globalization on women and these reveal two divert directions: (1)The critics of globalization. These views identified four major criticisms. These include:
The gendered division of labor
Women’s marginalization in the informal sector of the economy The exploitative nature of Multi-National Corporations
Negative impact of Structural Adjustment programmes imposed in the name of globalization. (2)The second believe that are many positives and advantages for women bringing about women’s advancement. These including: Enhanced employment opportunities for women
Helping to ease the problem of poverty
Strengthening women’s networks
Improving the access of women to health, micro-credit, employment opportunities and information in general.
Globalization and the Media
Until the 1970s, the media industry was differentiated into distinct sectors-for the most part, cinema, print media, radio and television broadcasting all operated independently of one another. In the past three decades, profound transformations have taken place within the media industry. National markets have given way to a fluid global market, while new technologies have led to the fusion of forms of media that were once distinct. By the start of the twenty-first century, the global media market was dominated by a group of about twenty multinational corporations whose role in the production, distribution and marketing of news and entertainment of news could be felt in almost every country in the world. These are the six major shifts that have contributed to bringing about the global media order:
•Increasing concentration of ownership: The global media is now dominated by a small number of powerful corporations. Small-scale, independent media companies have gradually been incorporated into highly centralized media conglomerates.
•A shift from public to private ownership: In the past few decades, the liberalization of the business environment and the relaxing of regulations has led to the privatizations of media companies in many countries.
•Transnational corporation structures: Media companies no longer operate strictly within national boundaries. Likewise, media ownership rules have been loosened to allow cross-border investment and acquisition.
•Diversification over a variety of media products: The media industry has diversified and is much less segmented than in previous times. Enormous media conglomerates, such as AOL-Time warner profiled below, produce and distribute a mix of media content, including music, news, print media and television programming.
•A growing number of corporate media mergers: There has been a trend towards alliances between companies in different segments of the media industry. Telecommunication firms, computer hardware and software manufactures and media content producers are increasingly involved in corporate mergers as media forms become increasingly integrated.
•Contribution to the women’s empowerment: Today, media has an important role to play – to create awakening in women to achieve their potential as the prime movers of change in society. Gender sensitive indicators for media
76% of the people heard or read about in the world’s news are male. The world seen in news media remains largely a male one.” –Who Makes the News, Global Media Monitoring Project, 2010
The aim of the Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) is to contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment in and through media of all forms, irrespective of the technology used. The media are a channel to examine the right to freedom of opinion and expression. For empowerment efforts to be successful, women must be able to exercise their rights in the same manner and to the same extent as their male counterparts. Yet, being able to exercise a universally declared human right is insufficient for empowerment.
Allowing women access to communication systems, such as media, does not guarantee that their opinions will be expressed equally or that their participation in the media will be mainstreamed: stereotyping and alienation of women by the media are still remarkably widespread phenomena (WACC 2010). According to the International Federation of Journalists (2009), “If we continue at the current rate of progress, it will take another 75 years to achieve gender equality in media.” Indicators pertaining to gender equality measure the extent to which women participate and are fairly represented in the media.
Two main categories make up the gender sensitive indicators for media. These are: Category A: Actions to foster gender equality within media organizations Gender balance at decision-making level.
Gender equality in work and working conditions.
Gender equality in unions, associations, clubs and organizations of journalists, other media professionals and media self-regulatory bodies. Media organizations promote ethical codes and policies in favor of gender equality in media content. Gender balance in education and training.
Category B: Gender portrayal in media content
Gender portrayal in news & current affairs.
Gender portrayal in advertising.
Media’s Role in empowerment of women in a globalize world
Communication is extremely important for women’s development and media play significant role. Growths of women’s education and their entries into employment have contributed to the growth of media. In all spheres of life whether for controlling population growth, spread of literacy or improving quality of life for vast masses, women have crucial role to play. However, women can be expected to play this role when they become conscious of their strength and are not deliberately marginalized by male domination. In this context, media has an important role to play – to create awakening in women to achieve their potential as the prime movers of change in society. In today’s world, print, electronic and social media play a vital role in effectively conveying message that needs to be conveyed. Electronic and Print media: Empowerment of women
Electronic media such as radio and television as well as print media such as books play a vital role in empowering women. In this context, media has an important role to play – to create awakening in women to achieve their potential as the prime movers of change in society. In today’s world, print and electronic media play a vital role in effectively conveying message that needs to be conveyed. “Family, society and workplace – women journalists have to deal with all three – the family allows them to work as pilots or doctors, but not as journalists” – Participant at roundtable in Dhaka, Bangladesh In such a rapidly changing environment, women in media have a large responsibility in not only changing attitude towards women but also shaping public opinion. In today’s world, with women holding responsible position in newspapers or electronic media, their competency is extend to a wider area and a range of issues. More importantly, a woman journalist is expected to show more sensitivity to issues relating to women and to more meaningful insights and perspectives. A significant number of women journalists are very successful in magazines dealing with various problems of women and child.
With sensitivity and skill for analyzing events in depth, issues such as women abuse and exploitation, harassment of women at workplace and the trauma of HIV infected women, female infanticide in rural areas find a prominent place in such magazines. The magazines deal with the issues more in depth compared to newspapers and women are considered competent to handle such stories. As per a study in the NCR there are around 900 women journalists and even in cities like Chennai the number is impressive 200. Journalism is no more a male domain. This new trend has also led to a change in the portrayal of women in the media in general and newspaper in particular. It is important to mention here the success of ‘Khabar Lahariya’. A group of eight women belonging to backward class bring out this paper from the Bundelkhand region. This paper which is being funded by an NGO was started with an aim to encourage women to fight for their own rights. Such kinds of initiative are required in every nook and corner of our country, so as to empower the women at grass root level. But on the other hand, the risks women in the media face, both in the urban and rural areas, have also to be seriously considered. As we move down, from the metropolitan towns and the state capitals, the risks increase. In remoter rural areas a woman journalist and particularly a reporter is a novelty not easily accepted and assimilated in the social milieu.
Zakia Zaki, shot dead in her home in Afganistan
Nadia Sharmeen was attacked and hospitalized in Bangladesh. She was harassed because of our religious fundamentalism. Despite these environments, It is noticed that more and more young graduates are joining the journalism degree and diploma courses, with an ambition to make a mark in the profession, and quite a good proportion of them are girls. With the rapid expansion, almost a proliferation of the electronic media through satellite channels, with the popularity of the FM on the radio and with the growth of the print media, notwithstanding the electronic media, now there is a good scope for absorption of both men and women qualified journalists in various media outlets. Women, young and old, are prepared to weather the risks.
The society, therefore, must make arrangements to provide adequate security to the vulnerable section of women in the media to promote their participation at all levels. At last, it can be said that, now-a-days both electronic and print media play an extremely significant role in spreading awareness, promoting alternative-empowered images of women, breaking down stereotypes and shaping mindset. Women entering the labor market are at its peak, there is increase in the number of educated women, and heightened awareness of their mobilization to fight against the unjust and discrimination. Social Media: A tool for Women Empowerment
Social media play a vital role for empowering women. Social media could enhance women’s participation in economic and political life, and allows them to increase their self-expression and promote social change, and this is a strong belief that has risen up in the society. For example, large segments of the population have been empowered by the sweeping societal and political transformations in the Arab region, where women became the main drivers for regional change and more engaged in civic and political actions and took over a leading role in the historic changes sweeping over the region. However, at the regional and global levels reached a debate about the role of social media in these transformations, making it to the policy making circles. This graph shows to what extent the following statements (below each bar) regarding women and social media are valid-
Fimage When analyzing the graph, it appears that the most popular use for social media as a tool of empowerment being communication and self-expression is followed by civic participation and social change. It was found at that more men (65%) than women (62%) believed that social media can be used for the political empowerment of women (Dubai School of Government Report, 2011). Women advancement through the blogosphere
Blogging has become a solitary platform for free speech in the world. Many female bloggers in the world face a unique challenge: to speak out about women’s issues often means going against the grain of family and society, but there are well-known female bloggers discussing issues unique to women. Being part of the blogosphere will create a psychological support for women who are hesitant about starting their own blog. This is a key factor in advancing women’s courage to take their own personal initiatives. Against oppression and injustice in their communities, women can freely speak out with no censorship of their voices, through their blogs. Blogs are used as public diaries where women discuss personal and public issues in their life and development. Storytelling used by women in blogs to introduce their thoughts has been proven to have its major effect.
The image of woman portrayed in mainstream media is that of a submissive stereotypical image. Alternative media concept originally aroused from the mainstream media’s black out of alternative opinion. It can be defined by rediscovering the purpose of mass communication. Alternative media are media inclusive of newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, movies, internet, etc. which provide alternative information to the mainstream media in a given context, whether the mainstream media are commercial, publicly supported or government owned. The main characteristics of alternative media are:
• Small scale and oriented towards specific communities, possibly disadvantaged groups, respecting their diversity;
• Independent of state and market
• Horizontally structured, allowing for the facilitation of audience access and participation within the frame of democratization and multiplicity
• Carriers of non – dominant discourses and representations, stressing the importance of self-representation. The main objective of alternative media towards woman’s empowerment is to support social struggles, awaken women’s consciousness to their subordination, advocate and defend rights. It also aims to promote various groups reflection and popular communication. Alternative media provides an alternative platform to voice the plight of woman against various marginalization and it connects amongst the weaker sections of the society who are deprived of their will to fight against their basic human rights. Various alternative media practices in the world:
Woman’s community radio: It is a kind of alternative media effectively nurtures equality, diversity and promotes democratic values amongst women. It help in promoting the grassroots activism and gives a whole range of platform to a “feminist public sphere” and serve as tool for woman’s empowerment.
World pulse magazine: It was founded in 2003 and a nonprofit NY media organization in which ground level initiatives network of people has grown into an international network connecting women across borders and building and rising pulse of women’s empowerment across the globe. Such media help woman to become voice of change.
GAMCOTRAP: It is a movement organization which is abbreviated as Gambia committee on traditional practices that affect health of women and children is a space where women speak in their own language – the very personnel and intimate experiences to express the challenges they face and share the coping strategies they have employed.
NYC grassroots media coalition: It is the coalition which works to build the capacity of diverse communities to communicate, collaborate and strategize ways to increase awareness and participation in independent media and social justice movements.
Democracy now: An alternative news service hosted by Amy Goodman. It plays a more subtle role which serves to sow powerful seeds of misinformation in a way that the ‘compromised’ mainstream media cannot.
Black music radio or pirate radio: a form of alternative media that defies narrow definitions focused on radical content and social movement.
Indy media: It is the Independent Media Centre “is a network of collectively run media outlets for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth.” AlterNet is news-magazine and online community that challenges the right wing media in the United States.
OneWorld.net: It brings together the latest news and views from over 1,600 organizations promoting human rights awareness and fighting poverty worldwide.
Jay’s Leftist & “Progressive” Internet Resources Directory is a vast site. Check on the Alternative Media topic, (under Subjects), which includes magazines (such as the New Internationalist, Third World Resurgence and Resurgence), publishers, e-zines and radio/TV.
Community Broadcasting Online: It provides background information and links to Australian community radio and television. Alternative Radio is a source for public affairs programming which is made available without charge to all public radio stations.
The Common Dreams News Center: It provides “news & views for the progressive community” as does Z-Net and the Alternative Press Review – all are American. Z-net also has an Alternative Media Watch page.
Global Voices Online: It scans the international community of bloggers to bring attention to news that otherwise might go unseen.
“If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate an entire family”. – Mahatma Gandhi
So, education is also one of the prime needs of women towards its development and empowerment in the society. With education, media can act as a platform or bridge to surpass the barrier of essential communication and