IAMCR statement on women to UN

UN Commission on the Status of Women - CSW60

The sixtieth session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is taking place at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York from 14 to 24 March 2016. IAMCR is participating as a non-governmental organisation formally recognised by the UN system. On Friday March 18 IAMCR made the following oral statement to the meeting.

The International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) calls on the UN to put into global focus the responsibility of communication industries and ICTs in eliminating violence against women and girls. This is crucial to promoting discussion and to enhancing public visibility and awareness.

Research on media and gender shows that, far from contributing to the discussion and understanding of the structural conditions of violence against women and girls, both traditional and new media actually promote gender-based violence. This is why the media are currently part of the problem rather than the solution to stopping violence against women.

Violence against women and girls is a public issue, as is the debate about the responsibility of media industries with respect to this issue. The documented increase in gender-based violence indicates that the mechanisms through which violence occurs have become increasingly complex and multifaceted, as have the forms through which violence is manifested in media content. Online and social media have become new and powerful vehicles for misogynistic threats and harassment which can result in the silencing of women. 

Another dimension of the gender-based violence and media relationship is the increase in violence against women journalists. Forms include sexual, physical, psychological, economic and femicide. This occurs most dramatically in conflict and post-conflict countries where the human rights of female journalists are particularly vulnerable. Frequently these acts are carried out with the implicit consent of States and/or in an environment in which news media organisations fail to ensure secure working conditions for women journalists.

The UN system and the international community have the mechanisms to lead a strong global movement that calls on media and telecommunications industries to promote the access of women to a life free from violence.

The evidence to date on the incidence and severity of abuse and violence against women and girls through the media, including working journalists and bloggers, is thus far mostly anecdotal.  There is a need for more research to document the range and frequency of gender-based harm in which media are involved.  In addition, some national governments and some individual media companies are beginning to adopt policies, but little has been done to track and compare these approaches to prevention.

Key recommended actions include:

    1. To commission and produce a global comparative report on media and gender-based violence, with a cross-national and cross-regional perspective, emphasising advances and challenges. This report would include an analysis of different dimensions of the problem: existing legislation, policy, regulation, self-regulation and co-regulation forms, content of media and ICTs, security conditions for women workers in media industries, media literacy programs.

    2. To call on member States to introduce or strengthen regulation and policy aimed at preventing the spread of gender-based violence through the media and ICTs.

IAMCR vice-president, Aimée Vega, reports that the statement was "the result of the coordinated work of the IAMCR Task Force for the Global Alliance on Media and Gender (GAMAG). It was approved by the CSW, after a lengthy review process. With this -among other actions, including our active participation in GAMAG, IAMCR is contributing to the global discussion on gender equality and women's and girl's human rights."

The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) is the principal global intergovernmental body exclusively dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women. IAMCR is accredited as an NGO in consultation with the UN system by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).