Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Giving a voice to women in Mediterranean media

on Friday, May 15th 2015 à 11:15 | Read 872 times

With the support of the Secretariat of the UfM

Better integrating women into the media while tackling stereotypes would not only bolster their economic power but also ensure a greater variety of information. That is exactly what the MedMedia project, supported by the European Union, is aiming to achieve.

photo MedMedia
photo MedMedia
A study carried out by Maria João Cunha, professor at the Institute of Social & Political Sciences of the University of Lisbon, examines women's participation and representation in the media and makes some harsh observations. In terms of "participation", the academic notes inequality in access to and distribution of high-level jobs between men and women. With regard to "representation", the study finds that women are presented in the media with an almost homogenised image, based on the stereotypes promoted by advertising, which cultivate the objectification of women (using the recurring themes of beauty, youth, perfection, sophistication, success, seduction and slimness). 

It is therefore logical to ask questions about these two sides of women's involvement in the media and how they are related. It seems fairly clear that changing the way women are presented in the media would lead to greater female participation, since stereotypes act as a barrier for women who wish to access careers in communication. This is one of the focuses of the MedMedia project, which aims to create a favourable environment for media reform in the southern Mediterranean region (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine). MedMedia must also raise awareness of the pressure imposed on women eager to access decision-making jobs in the media, who sometimes face sexual or moral harassment, leading to marginalisation.

One way of giving more economic power to women

Giving a voice to women in Mediterranean media
"Better integration of women in the media is a political issue, because it would give them more economic sway in traditional societies, particularly in the north of Africa" believes Leila Nachawati, professor at the University Carlos III of Madrid, and Spanish- Syrian blogger. "We have seen that women sometimes offer a different approach, particularly in journalistic coverage of conflicts, where they tend to be more interested in people's daily lives and in social or political issues".

"The most important thing", continues Leila Nachawati, "is to develop the legal frameworks to increase protection for journalists on the ground. Women can indeed be more exposed to the pressure exerted by authorities in conflict zones, even if the admirable examples of Mayte Carrasco or Zaina Erhaim in Syria prove that women are able to stand up to such pressure".

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