The United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women organized in Beijing, China (September 1995) adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action as a “defining framework for change,” with comprehensive commitments under 12 critical areas of concern. Twenty years later, the document remains a potent instrument for developing programs to advance the status of women and enhance their local and global roles as agents of change.
Listed among the 12 areas of concern are “women and the media” and “women and armed conflict.”
In armed conflict situations, the framework recognizes the need to protect the welfare of women and the participation and consideration of women in the peace process.
The framework also recognizes that “women should be empowered by enhancing their skills, knowledge and access to information” to avoid negative portrayals of women in the media. It also highlights the need for better women representation in the media in terms of decision-making positions.
One of the strategic objectives is to “create networks among and develop information programs for non-government organizations (NGOs), women’s organizations and professional media organizations in order to recognize the specific needs of women in the media, and facilitate the increased participation of women in communication, in particular at the international level in support of South-South and North-South dialogue among and between these organizations, inter alia, to promote the human rights of women and equality between women and men.”
The Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR) developed a training program for reporting on women’s issues and promoting gender-sensitivity in the news agenda, holding national forums and workshops around the country in 1997 to 1999 with funding from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Training content was developed with the NGO Hasik, working with Karina Constantino David (former chair, Civil Service Commission of the Philippines), Becky Demetillo Abraham (Inang Laya), and Rina Jimenez-David (Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist), among others. CMFR also published five monographs on the woman’s perspective in labor and migration, politics, population and development, reproductive health and violence against women (VAW) and did a GQ (Gender-Quotient) monitor of reports by newspapers and television programs.
This is one area where CMFR can look at its work and the fruits of its labor shared with partners among women NGOs as well, and, quite critically, the government. So much has changed. The best news organizations have codified standards of conduct in newsrooms with regard to gender respect and sensitivity. The Philippine government has embedded gender policy in all its agencies. Media personnel audits show women outnumbering men in editorial newsrooms and as heads of news organizations. Young couples seem more enlightened about equal sharing of responsibilities at home and in their career perspectives.
CMFR continues to be active in efforts to sustain these gains, working as a member of the Gender Equality Committee led by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW).
Setbacks and obstacles can derail gainful progress. CMFR’s efforts are designed to sustain what has been achieved as well as move on to challenges arising from change.
CMFR is happy to return to this field in relation to current peace issues by building a platform for stories that will inform Philippine society and the world about women and their role in peace- and nation-building. CMFR’s microsite “Women’s Voices” will amplify women’s views, opinions, ideas, actions and efforts, particularly in peace and development in space and time in mainstream and new media or cyberspace.
Women’s Voices aims to present a broad horizon of views that will help generate discussions to better achieve sustainable peace and long lasting development. It also aims to include women’s voices in the discussion of issues for better representation and promotion of gender balance on key policies.
Sections in the microsite:
- Perspective – A column type section where individuals can provide their points of view on related topics.
- Features – This will include features articles which can range from stories on experiences and struggles of women in conflict areas to stories of women participation in the peace process.
- Multimedia – Multimedia materials including videos, audio podcasts, and infographics will be posted here.
- Resources – A section where a collection of readings and other materials will available for access or download.
- Sound-off – A community forum section where readers can ask and discuss related issues.
Women’s Voices is a project of CMFR with the support of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Manila.