Talking about gender equality and challenging stereotypes can be quite difficult yet necessary to address different forms of discrimination women and girls face on a daily basis, and the media plays a critical role in informing people and initiating dialogue at different levels.
The Pacific Community (SPC), in collaboration with FemLINK PACIFIC and the Government of Australia, is organising a five-day workshop for Pacific Island government departments in charge of promoting gender equality and government media liaison officers.
Over 35 participants from 14 Pacific Island countries and territories are meeting this week at the SPC headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia, to strategize on promoting gender equality utilizing the media in its various forms.
The workshop encompasses SPC’s and the Government of Australia’s vision to work in close cooperation to achieve improved development outcomes and sustainable improvements in the quality of life of all Pacific islanders.
In his opening remarks, the Pacific Community’s Deputy Director- General, Cameron Diver, stated that the result of many years of gender discrimination and stereotypical, exploitive images of women is quite possibly one of the key reasons for entrenched negative attitudes to women.
“One only needs to look at the deeply entrenched culture of victim-blaming in cases of violence against women and sexual assault,” Diver said.
“There is evidence that exposure to sexual violence through the media is linked to greater tolerance and even approval of violence. Television shows, music videos and video games are such examples of media portraying sexual violence which can lead to acceptance of sexual violence as part of normal relationships and natural parts of love and intimacy.”
Studies have revealed that domestic violence reaches alarming rates, affecting 25% of women in Palau to 64% in Fiji and 68% in Kiribati.
The gender gap in employment rates as well as the fact that women’s political representation in the Pacific Islands region is the lowest of any global region, are also important concerns for gender equality.
“The role of the media is to report on the evolution and current priorities of our societies. It is therefore key that women’s perspectives be rightfully and fairly included,” said the Executive Director of the community-based media organization FemLINK PACIFIC and workshop facilitator, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls.
The workshop includes a series of interactive sessions about developing effective messages by using a language accessible to a large public as well as how to get ready to interact with the media in different contexts.
“Gender equality can be both an abstract and an uneasy subject for many people in the Pacific. When you work towards equality, you challenge power relations and promote change and that alone can trigger resistance,” explained SPC’s Deputy Director of the Social Development Division, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago – Elisara.
“Communicating that when equality progresses, everyone in society benefits is key for all segments of society to rally behind the pursuit of gender equality,” she added.
The workshop concludes on Friday 20th November.
Media contacts: Brigitte Leduc, SPC – [email protected]
Sharon Bhagwan Roll, FemLINK PACIFIC, [email protected]