Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO convenes brainstorm on Safety of Women Journalists Online

15 February 2019

UNESCO, in co-operation with Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL) and the Bosch Alumni Foundation, organized on 12 February a brainstorming session among media managers, journalists, researchers and representatives of OSCE Member States.

“The aim was to gather inputs for a study UNESCO is planning on tackling the online harassment of women journalists,” said programme specialist Saorla McCabe. The session was organized in Vienna within the framework of the OSCE conference ‘Increasing Opportunities for Freedom of Expression and Media Pluralism’.

Through a guided brainstorming format, participants were consulted on research questions and ideas for the upcoming UNESCO study. This research is designed to identify good practices in this area and yield concrete recommendations that will target media organizations, social media platforms, law enforcement agencies, and national authorities.

The study is part of a larger new UNESCO project addressing the specific threats faced by women journalists both online and offline.  

The project will also include training for both journalists and media managers, as well as book with testimonies by female journalists, allowing for an insight into the range of assaults that they face and into the manifold ways that they are fighting back.

“Participants in the Vienna session highlighted several problems,” said McCabe. Examples are the need for effective prosecution of cases of online harassment; the transnational nature of online harassment; the role of social media platforms; and the imperative of a culture of resilience and solidarity among journalists.

Several participants recommended adopting an intersectional approach to online harassment of journalists, taking into account interlocking forms of discrimination based on race, sexual orientation and other factors.

The session marked the starting point of a series of multi-stakeholder consultations online and offline which will accompany the roll-out of the research. The next event  on will be organized within the framework of World Press Freedom Day 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (1-3 May).

As the UN organization with the mandate to defend freedom of expression and safety of journalists, UNESCO spearheads the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. In a recent General Conference Resolution (39 C/Resolution 39), UNESCO Member States invited the Director-General to reinforce activities addressing threats against women journalists.

UNESCO collaborated in organizing this session with Global Diplomacy Lab, an organization that aims to explore a new and inclusive diplomacy which goes beyond traditional politics, and the Bosch Alumni Network, a project by the Robert Bosch Foundation and the International Alumni Center.