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AMARC WIN calls for the integration of gender perspectives in community media
Christina Haralanova | 23 April 2007

AMARC International Vice President Mavic Cabrera-Balleza for the Women’s International Network called on community media practitioners to ensure the integration of gender in their work. As part of the recently concluded Our Media 6th International Conference in Sydney, Australia (April9-13,2007) Cabrera-Balleza organized the panel discussion “Government and corporate media on one hand, community media and independent media on the other—challenges and potentials for women.”

The workshop examined the factors that allows for discrimination against women to take place in government and corporate-controlled media as well as in community media. It also identified best and potential practices that enable women to challenge and end the various forms of discrimination they experience through and in the media.

In her presentation, Cabrera-Balleza cited studies such as the Global Media Monitoring Project coordinated by the World Association for Christian Communication and the Mirror on the Media, Who Talk on Talk Shows conducted by Gender Links and the Gender and Media Network in Southern Africa (GEMSA) in 2006 to highlight how women are being marginalized in corporate and state radio stations. In comparison, she also presented findings from the AMARC WIN Asia-Pacific and Isis International-Manila survey of 23 community radio stations in the Asia-Pacific region and a study of Indy Media Centers (IMC). Cabrera-Balleza said that the survey brought the good news that almost all of the community radio stations that participated in the Asia-Pacific survey have between one to five hours of weekly programs by and for women. These programs cover issues such as women’s rights, health care, violence against women, literacy, and success stories of women in society. However, women remain to be the minority in decision-making positions in Asia-Pacific community radio stations.

In addition, women are also stereotyped in community media as is evident

In the fact that there a lot more women assigned to do administrative work and very few in technical production.

Cabrera-Balleza presented steps that could be taken to address the marginalization of women in community media. Among these are recommendations from Indy Media Center members:

Acknowledge existing hierarchies: The inequalities in the wider culture do not of their own accord stop at the door of IMCs — this is nothing to be ashamed of. Rather than trying to deny them, they should be seen as an opportunity for dissecting and moving beyond them;

Create a safe and welcoming environment, if possible from the get-go, as it is harder to change engrained structures later– e.g. inviting more women to join a long-established all-male collective or changingan aggressive communication culture to a less combative one; and

Improve meetings by providing attentive and fair facilitation, outreach and encouraging different kinds of communication modes;

Cabrera-Balleza also shared the plan to conduct a comprehensive gender audit among AMARC members to examine the nature and extent of women’s involvement in programming and management of community radio. She said that AMARC hopes to come up with models of organizational structures that would best guarantee women’s meaningful participation in community radio. Cabrera-Balleza stated that AMARC is committed to addressing the problem of women’s under-representation in community radio.

However, she also underscored that individual community media practitioners have a great responsibility to monitor their own behavior and always be aware of the gender dynamics and gender and power relations that need to be changed.

Please write to mavic@iwtc.org to request a full copy of Mavic Cabrera-Balleza’s paper.

Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, AMARC WIN representative from the Pacific participated in the same panel discussion. She shared Femlink Pacific’s experiences in using community radio to promote women’s participation in peace building and conflict resolution in Fiji and other Pacific island countries. Jenny Wanis from Ipili FM in Papua New Guinea also joined the panel. She spoke about how they use community radio to speak against violence against women.

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