Building peace in the minds of men and women

Global Research Project investigates violence against women journalists

The International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), in collaboration with UNESCO and the Austrian government, have launched their global survey titled “Violence and harassment against women in the news media: a global picture”.

Until now, few cases of sexual assault against journalists have been documented, mostly because journalists have not disclosed their experiences. However, it is important to systematically find out the various forms of harassments and violence women journalists face and to understand the causes as well as the reasons why journalists decide not to disclose their experience.

Hence, UNESCO welcomes this study on the dangers faced by female journalists and media workers, which is the first global survey of its kind. The report’s key findings include the observation that nearly two-thirds of the respondents have experienced “intimidation, threats and abuse” in relation to their work. In addition, half of the respondents answering whether they have experienced sexual harassment while exercising their profession replied affirmatively. It is also noteworthy that these experiences are taking place all around the world and that many respondents highlighted a lack of training and resources available to prepare them for the possibility of violence and harassment.

Several needs were identified in the survey, such as the need to increase the availability of safety information for women journalists, to improve hostile-environment trainings, to include chapters on sexual harassment and assault in safety handbooks, and for news organizations to improve their policies on sexual harassment. Based on the findings of the report, INSI and IWMF will work with other experts in the field and offer a series of recommendations aimed at increasing the safety of women journalists.

To raise awareness on the topic of violence and harassment against women working in the media, the report will be presented on 10 March 2014 in Geneva at a special side event during 25th session of the Human Rights Council, and on 11 March 2014 in New York in conjunction with the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, where UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, will be speaking.

The survey also directly contributes to the gaps in safety of journalists’ research identified in the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.