A hall of 300 global academics last week heard about how UNESCO links sustainable development to media development.
The input was made by Albana Shala, chair of UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), speaking at a conference of the International Association for Media and Communications Research, in Eugene, USA.
Shala posed the following questions: “What is happening with climate change? Where are we today when it comes to gender equality? What is going to happen with our jobs? How do we hold governments accountable for their decisions? How do we stop corruption?”
Answers these queries, she said, are not possible without knowledge and without access to information, and without the role of media in providing access to information.
This logic explains why on 28 September 2016, UNESCO marked for the first time the International Day of Universal Access to Information with an initiative called IPDCTalks, said Shala.
“IPDC Talks are dynamic events where high-profile speakers deliver inspiring talks about the essential role that access to information, independent and free media and freedom of expression play to achieve a sustainable future,” she informed the academics.
The audience also learnt that in September 2017, in addition to the main IPDCtalks event at UNESCO Headquarters, commemorations also took place in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Jordan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Palestine, Samoa, South Africa, Sudan, Uruguay and Yemen.
“On Twitter, the hashtag #IPDCtalks generated more than 31 million impressions and became trending topic in ten different countries", said the IPDC Chair. "The live webcast of the IPDC Talks in Paris counted more than 700,000 viewers during the event.”
Shala alerted her listeners that IPDCtalks for 2018 are planned in Tunisia (global event), Jordan, Palestine, Namibia, Gambia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Colombia (regional) and Malaysia (regional).
She encouraged IAMCR scholars to participate as speakers and encourage their students to attend the events.
Another topic discussed by Shala in her speech was IPDC’s monitoring and reporting mechanism on safety of journalists and issue of impunity.
“IPDC is the cradle of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. Since 2008, the IPDC Council discusses and endorses the report of UNESCO’s Director General on Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity. The sixth biannual report will be presented to the Council this November.”
She shared that the report had seen a change in the 27% response rate of member states in 2014, the figure rose 74% in 2017, saying that this showed increasing seriousness of attention to the killings of journalists and the problem of impunity.
Shala also drew attention to IPDC’s support for media development projects that are gender transformative.
“If we consider media as one of the most crucial social tools at our disposal, we should address the inequality through and in media,” she said.
“During IPDC’s Bureau meetings there has been informed discussions about the need to shift from gender-sensitivity to gender transformation in project support and implementation,” explained the chair.
“IPDC secretariat strives that all applications for funding meet gender-awareness criteria, It also supports the application of UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) to measure the degree of gender equality in both the operations and content of selected media outlets around the world."
Shala elaborated that while gender sensitivity takes into account gender differentials, gender transformation is about projects that directly challenge gender inequalities.