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Information is, quite literally, power – so much so that it can determine the future of governments and prime ministers. It’s no exaggeration to say that politicians have dumped manifesto and policy commitments to avoid a damaging headline in a mass circulation paper the next day.
So it’s pretty clear that who and what gets into the news and which events are covered has an impact on us all. Who is left out and what is not covered is just as important. If you want to change the way the world is run, then you also need to change the way it’s reported.
According to the most recent survey by the Global Media Monitoring Project (GMMP, March 2010), women feature in only about a fifth of the world’s news headlines and just ten per cent of all news stories.
Only six per cent of stories overall highlight issues of gender equality or inequality and more than twice as many female news subjects are portrayed as victims in comparison to men.
In terms of who’s telling the stories, only 36 per cent of news items were reported by women (who tend to write more about women), compared to 64 per cent by men.
These statistics matter because if the news we’re reading has been filtered through a male lens, then those are the experiences that we hear about, potentially compounding further the gender inequalities that permeate society, wherever we live.
In order to challenge those inequalities and improve the representation of women at all levels of politics, we At Women’s Views on News believe that we need a new type of news media – one that records and reflects the voices and experiences of women as equal to those of men.
In other words, if we want to change the nature of politics and the gender of our politicians, then our news media must also be democratic, inclusive and participatory.
There aren’t many news outlets that do that, but Women’s Views on News is one of them. We report exclusively from Monday to Friday on stories about women – from Afghanistan to the US; from Australia to Saudi Arabia.
A collective of 55 writers based in the UK, Ireland, USA, Egypt, Guam, Saudi Arabia and India, we aim to redress the gender imbalance in global news reporting by writing exclusive news, features and opinion pieces about women.
We also publish guest blogs from outside contributors on a regular basis, as well as news stories and features written by freelance contributors, none of whom are paid.
For more visit www.womensviewsonnews.org
Alison Clarke is the founder and co-editor of Women’s Views on News