Ghana’s media has grown over the years. It has been touted as ‘vibrant’ and capable of holding governments and opposition to account by setting the agenda for the country.
Like any other media in Africa, it informs, entertains and educates the populace.
They have been used to champion of lot of national causes. But the question is:
how have (are) the media contributed to women’s portrayal in the area of national development and representation on media platforms?
STRUCTURE OF GHANA’S MEDIA
Private Media: This is also known as Commercial Media. This is where private individuals own and invest individual resources in radio and TV stations they establish. The average Ghanaian consumes at least one Radio or TV Station as a result of variety. For example, Multi Media, Despite Media, Class FM etc
State Owned Media: This include Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, Ghana News Agency, New Times Corporation and Graphic Communications Group(which is partly owned by the state). It has got the special mandate to meet the information, education and communication needs of the nation and especially of the rural majority, such as women and the youth on the periphery of the national discourse.
Community Radio: It is development oriented. Most communities have established community radio stations to cater for the communication needs of the communities involved. This media is meant to be wholly established, funded and managed by the people in the community. Examples of such community radio stations include the Radio Ada in Accra and Radio Peace in Central Region.
Campus Radio: The tertiary institutions in Ghana are popularly regarded as communities due to the large number of students enrolled. As such, this makes the campus media another important media system in the country. This media system, though mainly discusses issues related to students, they go into areas of politics, social issues and development. Examples are Radio Univers(Legon),ATL FM(UCC) Focus FM(KNUST)
WHAT IS GENDER SENSITIVE REPORTING?
GENDER RESPONSIVE REPORTING DEFINITION
For the media to accurately mirror our societies, to produce coverage that is complete and diverse, it is critical that the news reflect the world as seen through the eyes of women as well as men.
To deliberately put in steps and decisions to recognize that reports or stories on women are not stereotypical
That women are involved at all levels of media organizations, including as reporters and decision-makers. But simply having more women in a newsroom is not enough to guarantee gender-sensitive reporting.
Gender-Based Ghettos – WHO writes about WHAT!
Women are interested in, concerned with and write about things that men are interested in. It’s important for both not to be isolated in gender-based ghettos and to avoid any separation on gender lines in terms of who writes about what.
We must recognize that ALL journalists, both female and male, can play a role in changing attitudes to women and gender-based stereotypes.
WHY GENDER RESPONSIVE REPORTING
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 5 sets the goal of achieving gender equality in all sectors. The media cannot be left out in this.
The media forms the core of our perception building and framing of women in the media goes a long way to influence the reading, listening and viewing public on women, our status, our relevance, and abilities.
A cursory look at Ghana’s media ownership pegs most of the ownership and management of media in the hands of males who control news content.
How we see women generally is reflected in the content we produce as news editors and managers.
Not only in the content but how they are represented in our panel discussions.
Understanding the Pillars of GRR
WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW
WHO: The reporting journalists, editors, editors-in-chief, photographers, managers, board… Gender is everybody’s business.
WHAT: To be sensitive to gender inequalities and portray and treat women and men in a fair and just manner.
WHERE: ‘On all levels’: At the managerial level where the general directions are made, at the editorial department where decisions are taken about stories to be covered, on the field when information is being gathered, at the desk when the information is being selected.
WHY: Fair gender portrayal is a professional and ethical aspiration, similar to respect for accuracy, fairness and honesty. It can importantly contribute and co-create more gender balanced and inclusive societies.
- This can be achieved through
- selection of sources and stories,
- fair portrayal of women and men through elimination of stereotypes,
- use of gender fair language,
- promoting gender equality within media organizations.
Achieving Gender Responsive Reporting…. How?
- SELECTION OF SOURCES AND STORIES :ACHIEVING BALANCED PRESENCE OF WOMEN AND MEN
Invisibility of Women: According to the Global Media Monitoring Report (2010) women are read and heard about only in approximately 23% of the world news. The world seen in news media remains largely a male one.
Making sure to report on stories of women in the (often male dominated) areas, such as politics and government, economics and business, war and conflicts, science and technology, sports, etc.
Pay attention to balanced representation of men and women as a sources of information, opinion and expertise in the news (e.g. make sure you pay attention to involve women as experts and professionals, not only as “ordinary “persons or victims).
Your sources should represent range of opinions coming from diverse groups, including from often invisible groups (e.g. persons with disabilities, ethnic communities, etc.). If relevant consult women’s rights NGOs and other groups working on gender equality or representing the group in question, to get more balanced view.
Look at the proportion of stories which focuses specifically on women or issues considered as a particular concern for women (e.g. gender-based violence, women’s rights, women’s achievements, etc.).
Also, you need to pay attention to covering stories focusing on issues of gender equality/inequality (stories about specific cases of equality or inequality between women and men, relevant policies, legislative issues, programmes designed to promote gender equality and transform unequal gender norms).
Make sure these stories get a fair share of prominence in your media. Give prominence to the stories reported on gender.
Achieving Gender Responsive Reporting…. How?
- FAIR PORTRAYAL OF WOMEN AND MEN THROUGH ELIMINATION OF STEREOTYPES AND PROMOTION OF MULTI-DIMENSIONAL REPRESENTATION.
Avoid stories with stereotypes, including openly sexist’s interpretations of the characteristic and roles of women and men in society.
– Try to avoid representing certain jobs or roles as only appropriate for, or held by, women or men.
Eg. Farmers are men; elementary school teachers are women, portraying women as homemakers.
Do not represent females and males as possessing stereotypic gendered attributes and characteristics.
–do not always imply that girls are timid and boys are brave,
–males are admired for their accomplishments and women for their physical attributes,
–females are passive and males are active.
–Equally, in the case of crime, violence, disasters do not portray only women as victims and men as survivors
Make sure you include stories that show multi-dimensional representation/portrayal of men and women (indicating journalistic effort to challenge/counter challenge gender based stereotypes).
Make sure you have a fair portrayal of men and women in commercial ads, commercial messages and images, trying to minimise ads for various product categories or services that stereotype or naturalise gender roles (e.g. household goods associated with cooking and cleaning, food, beverages, products for children, electronic goods;
Avoid depiction of sexuality in ads and images, particularly depicting women as sexual objects. Also pay attention to having a balanced proportion of ads that show women and men appearing assertive rather than passive in advertisements(voices and images),and that show occupations of women and men in ads, etc
Achieving Gender Responsive Reporting…. How ?
- USE OF GENDER SENSITIVE LANGUAGE
Structures of many societies have been based on assumptions of sex-biased roles, which are entrenched in the use of language.
To be truly equal, women and men must be seen and heard to be equal.
This means eliminating language that misrepresents, excludes or offends women.
Careful use of language and images in the media will give a more accurate reflection of your audience or readership, and this can positively affect people’s consciousness over time. In an attempt to use the gender sensitive language, try to:
Avoid using “he” as a generic pronoun, unless the gender of the subject is known and is relevant to the context. The pseudo-generic he or his, when referring to both a female and a male excludes the female. To be inclusive, use both he and she, and consciously balance pronoun use by sometimes reversing their order.
Avoid using “man” as a generic noun, as if men represent the whole human race. The use of the word man to represent both women and men excludes women, and it minimalizes their contributions and their worth as human beings. For example, to make language more inclusive use “humanity, human beings, people” instead of “mankind”, “artificial materials” instead of “man-made materials”; use “the best person for the job” instead of “the best man for the job”, etc.
When describing a job or career both men and women might perform avoid using term that specifies gender and replace gender-specific words with gender-neutral words in order to avoid associating men and women with certain professions.
–chairman/chairwoman vs. chair, coordinator, moderator, presiding officer, head, chairperson;
–Businessman/businesswoman vs. business executive, manager, businessperson
–Policeman/Policewoman vs. police officer
–Mailman vs. postal worker, letter carrier etc
Seek alternatives to language that omits, patronizes, or trivializes women, as well as to language that reinforces stereotyped images of both women and men.
-Don’t use terms like “the little lady” or “better half” when you are referring to someone’s spouse, or wife.
-Avoid the use of exaggerated language such as “woman driver crashes into fence”, “Maria is a career woman”, “Mother of three elopes with lover”
When referring to men and women, make sure they are addressed in the same manner.
For example, instead of saying “Mr. Boateng and Jemila Mohammed” refer to them as “ Nurudeen Boateng and Jemila Mohammed” (using both of their first names)or “Mr Boateng and Ms Mohammed”
Use courtesy titles that promote gender equity. For example: Instead of Miss, Mrs., use Ms.
Describe a woman as her own person, and not in relationship to someone else. Try to avoid forms of address that depict a woman as the mere appendage of her husband, which trivializes women or render them invisible. For Example:
–“Hawa Yakubu, who is married to Sadik Osman” say “Hawa Yakubu, who is a hairdresser, politician, author, etc..
–“The usher seated Mr. Andani and his lovely wife Fulera”, use “The attendant seated Mr. and Mrs. Andani.
FEMALE REPRESENTATON IN THE MEDIA
Ghana has a large number of experts in all aspects of our development.
From science ,economy academia, health among others
But from posters and pictures from the media ,women speaking on issues are underwhelming and woefully under-represented
Panels can have all men even though some of the programmes are women centered.
GHANAS MEDIA PANELLING
Ghana’s media have often complained whenever the under -representation of women is questioned on their current affairs programmes.
They go with the mantra ‘they don’t come when invited’
But this goes beyond invitation and its decline.
Its about doing proper research and collating women’s experts painstakingly because they are available.
POSTERS FROM SELECTED MEDIA HOUSES
Out of ten posters, only Fig 6 passed the representation test of paneling of having three females and two males
Fig 4 is a programme on women but has all males on the programme
For a country that has 51 percent of its population being women, means that more women should be represented on panel discussions in the media
But the reality is a woefully under-representation of its women in all sectors with focus on with media paneling
Another interesting thing about Ghana’s paneling is having males as constant hosts of prime time programmes
THE REALITY ON THE GROUND
The women experts who are invited are mostly interjected when delivering their submissions or heckled by their male counterparts on platforms
Personality attack on female experts on platforms prevents these and other women from showing up at other programmes by media houses
WHAT CAN BE DONE
Have a policy to have more women experts more than men and this should be deliberate. For example ,a panel of five should have three female and two men.
Media houses must put in mechanisms to ensure that women’s submissions are allowed and respected. Heckling of females must stop on panel discussions
Make headlines of women’s submissions greater and give it prominence. Don’t trivialize their submissions
Inequality can be done away with only by establishing a new society, where men and women will enjoy equal rights, resulting from an upheaval in the means of production and in all social relations. Thus the status of women will improve only with the elimination of the system that exploits them- Thomas Sankara
Anita Ramsak, PhD – Slovenia’s Development Cooperation
Global Media Monitoring Report
UNESCO – Gender Sensitive Indicators
Louise Carol Serwaa Donkor PhD.