Wednesday, October 25, 2017

MIL and gender equality #globalmilweek

Media and Information Literacy as a tool for gender equality and advocacy in information environments was the session I attended after lunch at the Global Media and Information Literacy Week in Jamaica, where I'm liveblogging.
Stephen Wyber (Manager, Policy and Advocacy, IFLA) started off by talking about Making the link between information and development: libraries, gender and media and information literacy. He asserted that information can be power, and obviously libraries have been contributing to this for a long time through access to information. However, access alone is not enough if people are unable to use the information etc. Lack of connectivity, lack of acces to technology and social and cultural norms can all be barriers to women having access to information. For example, women may stay in rural (low connectivity) areas while men go to the city, cultural norms may mean girls and women being prevented from their male relatives from using the internet. He cited the World Wide Web Foundation report which said that women are 1.6 more times more likely than men to report lack of skills as a barrier to using the internet. The gender digital divide is also growing, not getting better.
Wyber put forward libraries as being effective "one stop development shops", experienced as welcoming, safe places by women. There were reports from a number of countries that, whereas men tended to use places like internet cafes more, women used libraries more. This enables many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (apart from the one specifically to do with gender equality, this helps with supporting health etc.)

Secondly, there was a presentation from Isabel Moya (Department of Hender and Communication, International Institute of Journalism, Cuba). She highlighted that photographs provide an essential record of collective and individual memory. From early days this was not just something for the rich. Today it might be that the use of photos has contributed to a narcissistic culture, but certainly it is a background to life now.
However, stereotypes of female images persist, including in selfies. The project Moya was talking about aimed to encourage Cuban teenagers to express themselves playfully in photos. The teenagers became sensitised to the issues, through the project, and also produced a large number of photos, which expressed individual views of themselves and of their community. I think she said that they had been exhibited.

Hilary Nicholson (World Association for Christian Communication, Jamaica) then talked on Gender focused media monitoring for building critical media and information literacy skills. She talked about the Global Media Monitoring Project, is a news monitoring project which is carried out every 5 years. It uses "a gender lens to monitor news worldwide". Various elements are analysed (see the slide at the top of this post). 22,136 stories were analyed from over 100 countries (with trained local team), in the 2015 survey. In traditional news 24% women were covered: the male domination was linked to the coverage of politicians, businessmen etc. Spokesmen and experts (e.g. quoted in news stories) in particular were predominantly male. These differences seem to persist across countries and over time (there was little change from the 1995 survey). The gender gap in those reporting news is closing, but still only 37% of news reporters are female. Women were more likely to appear in stories written by women (so perhaps if there were more female reporters, perhaps more women would be in news stories). Additionally, women are three more times more likely than men to be portrayed as victims, and their family status is more likely to be mentioned. The website is

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