Pursuing Gender Equality Through Media

Posted: 2017-11-22
Written by: EU Network
Category: Battle of ideas
Tagged: youth workers sustainable development media individualism human rights gender stereotypes gender inequalities gender equalities emancipation of women

Gender based inequalities persist in all areas of social and economic life.  There is no country in the world that has fully closed the gender gap across all economic, educational, health and political domains and the degree and causes of gender inequality vary throughout the world. Gender inequality remains a major barrier to human development.

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Mass media play a significant role in a modern world, by creating a certain type of message, media can manipulate people’s attitude and opinions. People organize their knowledge about the world around them by sorting and simplifying received information.  Media not only gives people information and entertainment, but it also affects people’s lives by shaping their opinions, attitudes and beliefs. Media are one of the most powerful of the many influences on how we view men and women.

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To explore the  knowledge and understanding of various concepts related to gender issues and emphasizing the importance of gender equality in Media, and to analyze each partner's country gender issues from different perspectives 27 youth workers from European Union Member States and Neighboring Partner Countries from 12-19 November, 2017  gathered together in the Capital of Armenia in order to take part at the Training Course “Youth Workers Foster Gender Equality Through Media”.

The importance of gender equality has been stressed numerous times and it  is not only a fundamental human right, but  also a key stone of a prosperous, modern economy that provides sustainable  inclusive growth. Gender equality is essential for ensuring that men and women can contribute fully at home, at work  and in public life.

The disadvantages facing women and girls are a major source of inequality. Noticeable crimes against women consist of violence, femicide (murder of women),  rape, sex-selective abortion etc. Women’s unequal legal rights increase their vulnerability to violence. Women more often are victims of domestic violence. In many countries there is no specific laws to penalize domestic violence, even though domestic violence is a widespread problem. Domestic violence is generally considered to be a private matter outside the state’s jurisdiction.

There are still countries where girls are often taken out of school when they hit puberty. Cultural factors related to the ‘correctness’ of sending girls to school, reluctance to send girls and boys to the same school after third grade, as well as the perceived and real security threats related to girls walking to school and attending classes all contribute to slowing down the enrollment of girls in schools. Likewise, the enormous lack of female teachers, who are fundamental in a country where girls cannot be taught by a man after a certain age, is having a negative impact on girls’ education. There are countries where  women should wear garments that cover their clothes to avoid  risk being attacked otherwise men threw acid in the faces of two women for not covering up in public. In many countries, while husbands can divorce their spouses easily, wives’ access to divorce is often extremely limited. Women cannot file for divorce on the basis of abuse without the testimony of an eyewitness. A medical certificate from a doctor documenting physical abuse is simply not good enough.

Female infanticide is a major cause of concern in many patriarchal societies. It has been argued that the "low status" in which women are viewed in patriarchal societies creates a bias against females.

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Outfit of a young woman in Armenia who is passionate about women empowerment

Egregious gender inequality still exists globally despite of substantial national and international measures that have been taken towards gender equality. Measures of gender equality include access to basic education, health and life expectancy, equality of economic opportunity, and political empowerment. Although there have been evident progresses, many alarming issues regarding gender discrimination still prevail. Therefore, gender equality must be made as a fundamental step in both human development and economic progress.

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Mass media  play a key role in promoting unrealistic, stereotypical and limiting perceptions of women.



Media's images of women also reflect cultural stereotypes and is deeply rooted in the social archetypes. In the past, the patriarchy was a dominant family model. Through the ages men have been considered to be financial providers, career-focused, assertive and independent, whereas women have been shown as low-position workers, loving wives and mothers, responsible for raising children and doing housework. Nowadays a family model is based rather on a partnership than on patriarchy and women have more rights and possibilities on the labor market.

Although females and males are still not equal, the differences between gender are not so vast anymore. Nevertheless, mass media still uses gender stereotypes, keeping alive two images of women: good women and bad ones. These polar opposites are often juxtaposed against each other to dramatize differences in the consequences that befall good and bad women. Good women are pretty, deferential, and focused on home, family and caring for others. Subordinate to men, they are usually cast as victims, angels, martyrs, and loyal wives and helpmates. Occasionally, women who depart from traditional roles are portrayed positively, but this is done either by making their career lives invisible or by feminizing working women to make them more consistent with traditional views of femininity.

Men and women most often are portrayed in stereotypical ways that reflect and sustain socially endorsed views of gender.  Depictions of relationships between men and women emphasize traditional roles and normalize violence against women.

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Media efforts to pathologize natural physiology can be very serious. One of the most damaging consequences of media's images of women and men is that these images encourage us to perceive normal bodies and normal physical functions as problems. Advertising is very effective in convincing us that we need products to solve problems we are unaware of until some clever public relations campaign persuades us that something natural about us is really unnatural and unacceptable. In an effort to meet the cultural standards of beautiful bodies, many women suffered unnecessary surgery, which led to disfigurement, loss of feeling, and sometimes death for women when silicone implants were later linked to fatal conditions. media argue that our natural state is abnormal and objectionable, a premise that is essential to sell products and advice for improving ourselves.

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It is essential that both men and women are aware of the benefits that gender equality brings to them as individuals and as members of societies.



The ways in which women and men experience poverty and social exclusion are still quite  different. Women face a higher poverty risk, particularly lone parents and the elderly, when the pay gap becomes a ‘pension gap’. In addition, amongst disadvantaged groups (i.e. migrant workers, disabled, elderly) gender gaps tend to be  much wider and cause many problems for women. It is important to make sure that women’s careers are not blocked by the glass ceiling effect.   However, gender gaps also remain in decision-making positions. The latest researches show that only one out of ten members of the management boards of large publicly listed European Union companies, is a woman. Women make up less than 2% of those in corporate management of newspapers and only about 5% of newspaper publishers. The lack of women in the media is paralleled by the scarcity of women in charge of media. Only about 5% of television writers, executives, and producers globally are women. While two thirds of journalism graduates are women.

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Barriers to employment are also reflected in  higher inactivity rates and higher long-term unemployment rates. Progress has been made in getting more women into the workforce. The European Union average is now close to 60%, up from 52 %  in 1998. The European Commission is aiming for a rate of 75 % for men and women by 2020 paying particular attention to the labour market participation of older women, single parents, women with disabilities, migrant women and women from ethnic minorities.

Gender equality is not only a women´s issue, but a men´s issue as well. It is also true that sustainable  development can only succeed through the participation of both women and men. Gender equality is our social and economic responsibility. Getting more women on to the labour market helps counterbalance the effects of a shrinking working-age population, widening the human capital base and raising competitiveness.

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We would probably all be considerably happier and healthier if we became more critical in analyzing media’s communication about how we should look, be, and act. Mass media  evolve along with the development of a society and are the answer to many social and political changes, such as emancipation of women, growing role of individualism, globalization and revaluation of patterns and social roles.  More and more advertising specialists produce non-stereotypical commercials. However, the attempts to break down the stereotypes threaten to reject the message. A society has to achieve an adequate level of social readiness, so that messages breaking gender stereotypes could be effective. Everyone deserves to live free from the burden of harmful gender stereotypes.

International Mobility for Youth Workers ‘’Youth Workers Foster Gender Equality Through Media” was implemented within European Union program Erasmus+ KA1. Erasmus+ KA1 program provides opportunities for individuals to improve their skills, enhance their employability and gain cultural awareness. Beneficiaries are able to spend a period of time in another participating country gaining valuable experience of life, study and work with the aim of increasing the opportunities available to them in the future. Key Action 1 is the largest action in Erasmus+ with focus on increasing mobility and skills.

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