Ashok Kumar/OneWorld South Asia
New Delhi: Freedom of opinion and expression has to be spread to all parts of the world as a vital element for the promotion of social progress and human dignity, said Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day-2014.
Through a video message during the consultation on the topic ‘Women Making Media: Challenges and Opportunities’ in New Delhi, she said that UNESCO is working all over the world to promote freedom of expression. “World Press Freedom Day is the day when we make our voices heard so that every men and women get the opportunity to speak out,” she emphasised.
Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative to Bhutan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka lamented that globally, only twenty per cent seats are occupied by the women in the legislative bodies. Citing figures, he said that while India has 11 per cent women representatives in the Parliament, in Japan the representation is limited to only 8 per cent.
Aoyagi said that women are needed in higher positions for inclusive growth. Exhorting women journalists to unite for the promotion of women status, he said that only one third of women are there in the media workplace. “Freedom of expression can only be ensured with equal representation of men and women,” he said.
Ammu Joseph, Independent Journalist and author, said that despite the fact that some of the best known names in journalism belong to women, both in the broadcast and in the print including the magazines and newspapers, the target of achieving gender balance is still a far cry. She lamented that night shifts are still problematic for women working in the mainstream media.
Quoting researchers, Joseph said that India’s national media lacks social diversity as it does not reflect the country’s social profile. Forget about media organizations, gender balance does seem to concern even the media regulatory bodies in India.
Ravina Aggarwal, Programme Officer for Media Access and Rights, Ford Foundation, said that the idea of consultation was to identify the emerging opportunities for women in the new media landscape. “The new technologies are helpful for greater women participation but they bring their own challenges along with them,” she said.