Step it up: Let's stop perpetuating gender stereotypes in SA media

This Women's Month, UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office (SAMCO) and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) calls on the media to be more mindful of the kind of content they create and share.

“How many women political commentators, economists and analysts can you think of off the top of your head? Probably not many,” says Anne Githuku-Shongwe, UN Women SAMCO Representative. “This is hardly surprising as the latest Global Media Monitoring Project report (2015) found that women make up only 24% of persons heard, read about or seen in newspaper, television and radio news, exactly as they did in 2010,” she says.

To help challenge this, UN Women SAMCO and GIZ will be hosting the Step it Up for Gender Equality in SA Media Conference in Johannesburg. The event, taking place on 29 August 2019, will bring public and private media houses, production houses, government and civil society together to find solutions to the issues of gender equality, harassment, representation and stereotyping in media.

The 2019 Gender and Media Baseline Study conducted by Genderlinks revealed that two thirds of all broadcast entertainment media in South Africa contains gender stereotypes.* Regardless of their personal choice of media, South Africans have a good chance of encountering stereotypes that perpetuate gender discrimination.

“Femicide rates in South Africa are five times more than the global average**,” says Joan Moeketsi, GIZ Component Manager SA: Partnerships for Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls in Southern Africa (PfP). “And yet, Gender-Based-Violence coverage accounts for only one per cent of all news stories.* We want to encourage media professionals to reflect on the role they play in perpetuating gender stereotypes that are detrimental to society. It is quite clear that our communities closely mimic what they see portrayed in the media and so the media has the power to create a more gender equal world,” she continues.

The Step it Up for Gender Equality in SA Media Conference programme will host multiple panel discussions and workshops exploring topics such as:
  • The #metoo and #Ibelieveher campaigns
  • The need for sensitive reporting and storytelling regarding gender, and the linked challenges and opportunities for media
  • How to strike a balance between storytelling for social change and reflecting reality or even using blatant stereotypes
  • How SA media are already progressing in this field and inspiration from abroad
  • A way forward and creating a pledge for the media to commit themselves to gender equality and women’s empowerment
“As GIZ, we are committed to preventing GBV through various initiatives as the Partnerships for Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls in Southern Africa (PfP). This conference intends to bring South African media stakeholders together to play a more conscious role in preventing the scourge of gender-based violence, patriarchy and discrimination built upon unequal gender stereotypes,” concludes Moeketsi.

For more information about GIZ, contact Luxolo Matomela on or to register for the conference contact .

References
* Gender Links, 2019
** https://ewn.co.za/2018/12/10/sa-femicide-rate-5-times-the-global-average-centre-for-constitutional-rights


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