Whether it is prolonged drought, sudden floods or steadily rising seas, the impacts of climate change are usually borne most heavily by women. Women’s unique perspectives – and their role as environmental stewards and guardians of traditional knowledge – are crucial, yet women continue to be under-represented in the media.
EJN reached out to journalists in its network to identify some of the barriers journalists face while including the voices of women in their stories. Our research findings – and recommendations to improve gender representation in the media – are outlined in the report, ‘Where are the Women?’.
Advancing Gender Equality in the Media
On March 8, International Women’s Day, EJN hosted a webinar to discuss these findings. Moderated by EJN’s Environment and Health Project Officer Stella Paul, the panel brought together Sara Schonhardt, former Managing Editor at EJN, Amar Guriro, an EJN grantee and freelance journalist from Pakistan who was interviewed for the report, and Okky Madasari, a journalist and author in Indonesia who conducted research for the report.
“Gender awareness, knowledge and perspective is not an ideology that you believe or don’t believe. It is a basic skill,” said Madasari.
Check out our Twitter thread highlighting key moments from the webinar.
“You may not be able to get the story you need to get out at the end of the day if you’re looking for a female source. That’s a loss for that day but go back to it tomorrow with a better story, and fight for that,” added Sara Schonhardt, former Managing Editor at EJN.
Overall, the speakers reiterated that more work needs to be done to advance gender equality in the media – by media organizations and journalists alike.
They pointed out that the first step toward progress has already been made, as reporters are increasingly aware of the importance of including women’s voices in their stories – not just as victims of environmental destruction and climate crises, but also as experts in their own right, with agency and solutions to offer.
Then, on March 16, Internews’ President and CEO, Jeanne Bourgault, and Zofeen Ebrahim, an independent journalist from Pakistan who contributed research to EJN’s gender report, addressed the importance of increasing women’s visibility in the news media on Turn the Mic Around, Internews's conversation series featuring journalists and technologists on the frontlines of media. “When women are heard, they unite. There is power in unity. That itself can be a driving force for change,” said Ebrahim.
More from across our network
We also asked our network: How do you ensure gender equality in your reporting?
Here’s journalist Martha Stevens, from Tanzania: “First of all, I make sure if the story needs a vox pop I find both men and women in order to hear from both sides and to escape gender imbalance. Second, when I say ‘Mr’ John for a man then for a woman also I must use ‘Mrs’ John. I avoid using words which can lead to gender stereotypes. For example, when you interview a girl about agriculture technology and you introduce her like, ‘today I have a beautiful girl Anna by my side’, that is not right because there is no connection between being beautiful and understanding agriculture technology.”
We got EJN grantees and Internews staff from around the world to weigh in as well. Check out their responses in these short video which reached more than 24,000 followers across all of EJN’s platforms.
“I ensure gender balance in my reporting by focusing on inclusive development, collaborating with grassroots women's organizations, and prioritizing the voices of women in the stories that we co-produce,” said Geela Garcia, EJN grantee from the Philippines.
“I have tried to include more women’s voices in my articles. For example, to show that medicine is a field that was conquered by women, or to demonstrate that professional women work twice as hard as men,” said Mariela Rosero, Internews’ Health Journalism Network grantee from Ecuador.
Additional resources on gender-inclusive reporting:
- Resources for Women Journalists: A Guide by the GIJN
- Safety of Women Journalists: A Guide by CPJ
- Finding Diverse Sources for Science Stories: The Open Notebook
- Where are the Women? Webinar Resources I
- Where are the Women? Webinar Resources II
Banner image: Puth Rina, 35, started fish farming in 2015. Photographed in Battambang province, Cambodia, on September 26, 2021 / Credit: Sokummono Khan.